US official visits Colombian refugees in Ecuador

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Associated Press

Posted on May 19, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Updated Sunday, May 19 at 1:33 PM

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — The U.S. State Department's assistant secretary for refugee issues is drawing attention to the plight of Colombian refugees who have fled across the border into Ecuador.

Anne C. Richards says the problem is continuing even though the Colombian government is in peace talks with rebels. Many refugees say they are fleeing threats and extortion by irregular and paramilitary groups. The U.N. refugee agency puts the number of Colombian refugees in Ecuador at more than 50,000.

Richard toured a U.S.-backed refugee shelter near the border on Saturday and said in an interview with The Associated Press that the problem has gotten too little attention.

She praised Ecuador for accepting so many refugees and for letting many work, though she said refugees still confront problems including discrimination and lack of key documents.

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