President Guillermo Lasso announced Thursday that the government is working on a plan to legalize the residency of Venezuelan refuges living in Ecuador. “Currently, most of those who have fled Venezuela have no legal status and we must rectify this so that they can have employment, receive services and participate in our national affairs,” he said. “To do this will require the support of the international community, first in recognizing the crisis that is effecting millions of people and second, in the provision of financial resources to provide the needed help.”
Lasso comments followed the announcement Thursday at a United Nations-sponsored conference in Canada that participating countries would contribute $954 million to assist Venezuelan migrants dispersed throughout South America. According to the UN, 5.7 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2016, with an estimated 440,000 currently living in Ecuador.
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the Covid-19 pandemic is causing extreme suffering for Venezuelan migrants. “The devastation suffered in Latin America and the Caribbean by the disease is making life unbearable for those who were forced from their home country,” he said. “One in four Venezuelan children are separated from one or both of their parents. One out of three go to bed hungry each night. Nearly two-thirds have not attended school since the beginning of the pandemic. The risk for women has increased and domestic violence and sexual harassment are at record levels.”
Grandi said his office will collect the funds pledged to refugees and develop a distribution system based on their location. According to his office, the countries with the highest number of Venezuelans are Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Brazil.
Government organizes vaccination brigades
Concerned with the high rate of no-shows for vaccination appointments, Vice President Alfredo Borrero is organizing “mobile vaccination brigades” to encourage Ecuadorians to get vaccinated against the Covid19 virus. The government reported last week that eight to 10 percent of those signing up for vaccines miss their appointments, including some scheduled for a second dose.
“Because of the absenteeism, we are taking a different approach for getting people to the vaccination centers,” Borrero said. “We will actively look for people to persuade them to the centers. This is especially important for those who have received one dose and need the second. We will also contact those who have not made appointments.” He added that the vaccine brigades will use email and social media to contact the unvaccinated and, if that fails, make phone calls and visit homes.
Ecuadorian wins U.S. chess championship
Ecuadorian Carla Heredia won the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship in Las Vegas Thursday night. In a social media post, she wrote, “We made it Ecuador! I am champion! This is the fifth time that I participated in this tournament and I am very happy I was finally able to win.” Crowned Ecuador’s Grand Chess Master last year, Heredia won the Las Vegas tournament in five games. In the final round, she tied with China’s Zoey Tang at 4.5 points but won on the tiebreaker.