Angelina Jolie made her third trip to Ecuador to meet Colombian refugees this week, and urged the government to maintain its open asylum policy.
According to the UNHCR, "Ecuador hosts 56,000 refugees and 21,000 asylum-seekers and receives 1,300 new applications for protection each month from people fleeing neighbouring Colombia’s continuing violence. Many live in the remote and poor northern areas of the country close to the border.
“Jolie’s two-day visit began on Saturday in Lago Agrio, capital of Sucumbios province in the north of the country. She visited the oil town’s San Valentin neighbourhood, where she met young Colombian refugees and Ecuadoreans who were part of a youth group supported by UNHCR. They told her about their tough lives in an area where the young are often targets for recruitment by armed groups and traffickers.”
“I found these people impressive and was really moved by their determination to improve their community and take it into their own hands,” Jolie said. She discussed the situation of the youth of the area with Lago Agrio’s Mayor Yofre Poma, who runs a series of school programmes aimed at instilling a sense of responsibility in young people and easing the integration of refugees, who comprise 13 per cent of the town’s population.
“Through these programmes, the mayor is keeping the culture of tolerance for vulnerable people who have suffered so much violence,” Jolie said.
To read a full account of Angelina’s visit, click here.