IOM and UNHCR Welcome Ecuador’s Decision to Regularize Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants


Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have welcomed Ecuador’s regularization initiative which is expected to benefit thousands of Venezuelans.

Ecuador hosts the third largest population of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the world. While a majority of half a million people live there undocumented, Ecuador’s move to begin regularizing their status will begin to provide those benefiting from the initiative with legal protection and stability.

It will facilitate their access to rights, basic services and the labor market, thus contributing to accelerating their socio-economic integration in Ecuador.

“We welcome Ecuador’s efforts to secure rights and find practical solutions for Venezuelans who have sought safety in the country,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “In these increasingly difficult times for many displaced communities around the world, the government and people of Ecuador have continued to show solidarity and compassion, and above all, their commitment to protecting the rights of Venezuelans on the move.

As the economic and health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt in countries and communities in Latin America and the Caribbean, refugees and migrants are among the most vulnerable populations, especially illegal immigrant.

“This initiative is one of the most pragmatic ways to break down barriers to long-term integration. With regular status, refugees and migrants can fully contribute to their host communities – something they have been waiting for years,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. “Diasporas play an invaluable role in the life and growth of host societies as a key driver of development.”

UNHCR and IOM, as co-leads of the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), which brings together 53 partners in the country, reiterate their support for the Ecuadorian government in this initiative, and offer their expertise, capacity, presence and resources to continue to strengthen the process and ensure that no one is left behind.

This is the second time that Ecuador has taken steps to regularize Venezuelan refugees and migrants. Of those biometrically registered in a previous exercise in 2019, nearly 50,000 have had their status regularized by 2020.

According to data from the R4V platform, of the six million refugees and migrants who have left Venezuela, about half do not have regular status. About 80% are hosted in Latin America and the Caribbean and several countries have adopted policies to regularize, protect and include Venezuelans in their communities and economies. These processes, coordinated through regular mechanisms such as the Quito Process, require significant financial support to succeed.

UNHCR and IOM call on the international community, development actors and international and regional financial institutions to provide sufficient and timely support for the strong commitment of governments across the region to help foster long-term solutions for Venezuelan refugees and migrants and host communities.


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