Dozens of police executed an early morning raid Thursday to remove more than 100 Colombians camped out near the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Quito.
After dismantling tents and tarps, national and municipal police loaded the Colombian protesters and their belongings in trucks and buses for relocation to other areas of the city. According to the Quito municipal police office, residents in the neighborhood near UNHCR headquarters, were complaining that the encampment was disrupting daily life and providing refuge to thieves.
The Colombians claim that the UN has been slow to act on their applications for official refugee status and some applicants have been denied. “We have been forgotten with all the attention on the Venezuelans,” said. Alicia Gomez, one of those being relocated. “Colombia is a country of great violence and hatred and we come to Ecuador looking for peace for our families. We demand that the United Nations hear our stories.”
The UN refused comment on the eviction, saying only that the status of the Colombians is being reviewed. There are an estimated 250,000 Colombians living in Ecuador, 65,000 with official refugee status granted due to violence in the southern districts of the country.