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Ecuador opens its borders to Afghan refugees in an agreement with the US

This has been confirmed by the Ecuadorian president, Guillermo Laso, who is in Mexico, from where he affirms that it will be "temporary"
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AFP/RODRIGO BUENDIA  -   Ecuador will receive a group of Afghan refugees in an agreement with the US

Ecuador will receive a group of Afghan refugees in its territory under an agreement with the United States, which will cover the costs, and with which the country wishes to express its solidarity and support for the efforts of the international community in the face of the crisis in Afghanistan.

This has been confirmed by the Ecuadorian president, Guillermo Laso, who is in Mexico, from where he says it will be "temporary".

"We will provide humanitarian aid to Afghan families, victims of the conflict. Ecuador will temporarily receive Afghans in transit to the United States, as part of an international cooperation agreement to guarantee their safety and protection," the president said.

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AFP PHOTO / Daniel Young / US NAVY - Afghan evacuees disembark a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Sigonella Naval Air Station, Sicily, Italy

In a statement, the Secretariat of Communication says that with this, Lasso "demonstrates the support of the 'Government of Encounter' (as it calls itself) to the international community in all actions aimed at collaborating with the safe departure of foreigners and native citizens from Afghanistan".

This humanitarian assistance will be provided "mainly to women, minors and vulnerable populations" and will be channelled through Ecuadorian consular offices.

For the moment, no official source has confirmed how many refugees are involved.

The Andean country already hosts some 60,000 refugees, mainly from the conflict in Colombia, as well as more than 450,000 Venezuelans who have arrived in recent years.

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PHOTO/ Senior Airman Brennen Lege/US Air Force via AP - US Airmen and Marines guide evacuees aboard a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the evacuation from Afghanistan at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul

The government stresses in the communiqué that "conflicts in which human rights are violated are no different", which is why Ecuador "will continue to join efforts with the international community to provide aid to the victims of the Afghan conflict, who deserve to live in safety, protection and dignity".

The humanitarian response of Ecuador, in a difficult economic situation due to the pandemic, is part of its adherence on 16 October to a statement coordinated by the US in which more than 70 countries urged the parties involved in the conflict to respect and facilitate the safe and orderly departure of foreign citizens and Afghans who wish to leave the country.

"Their stay in Ecuadorian territory will be temporary and they will have the cooperation of the US to cover the expenses generated by their stay, until they can be regularised in that country," according to the official press release.

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AFP PHOTO / SPANISH DEFENCE MINISTRY - Afghan collaborators of the Spanish mission in Afghanistan and their families arrive in Dubai before flying to Spain

Ecuador's announcement comes hours after Colombia also made public its willingness to accept Afghans on its territory.

"At the moment we are not certain about the precise number of Afghans who will arrive in our country, nor do we know precisely when or what their profiles are like, how many men, how many women, how many families, if they arrive with children...", said the Colombian vice-president and foreign minister, Marta Lucía Ramírez.

Meanwhile, several European countries, including Spain, are keeping an air bridge open to rescue foreigners and Afghans.