July 2, 2020

Ecuador authorizes the return of vulnerable groups despite restrictions



Ecuador will authorize the return of certain groups of Ecuadorians who have been stranded abroad since it imposed a state of emergency ten days ago and the cancellation of incoming flights.

This was announced on Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry in a statement revealing the drafting of an applicable Protocol for “children and adolescents who are outside the country without their parents or legal guardians, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly. “

The document has been approved by the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) and entrusts the responsibility for its return to the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Public Health, Government, and Transportation and Public Works.

The Minister of Foreign Relations, José Valencia, announced that the Health authorities, following the instructions of the COE, elaborated and issued the protocol for the entry of these groups during the validity of the State of Exception, which has been in force since Monday the 16th.

Until now, the Ecuadorian government has prohibited entry from abroad for fear of further spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has claimed the lives of 27 people and infected 1,082 others.

The suspension of commercial arrival flights for international passengers since March 17 has been criticized by those who stayed abroad, to whom the Foreign Ministry has since sought a solution.

“Government authorities have been aware of the situation of Ecuadorians who have not been able to return at all times,” Valencia said in its statement, who noted that “he shares the concern of family members, communicators and society as a whole about said situation.”

In this sense, the protocol updates the humanitarian entry provisions contained in “Interministerial Agreements 001, 002, 003 and complements those of 004, thereby prioritizing the entry into Ecuador of children and adolescents who are outside the country without their parents or legal guardians, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly. “

“This first order of priority of return to Ecuador will allow the return to the country of the people identified as most vulnerable by their specific individual situation,” says the introduction to the protocol.

And he adds that “the Ecuadorian State will later facilitate the arrival in the country of other Ecuadorians and foreign residents, in order of priority due to their sanitary circumstances, to the extent of the logistical and material possibilities of the State and according to the protocols established for the effect”.

On Monday, the authorities allowed the unexpected entry of twelve Ecuadorians who had boarded a United Airlines flight from Houston that had been authorized to arrive, empty, to repatriate Americans, an incident on which the General Directorate of Civil Aviation has opened a investigation.

So far there is no exact number of the number of Ecuadorians stranded abroad, but the Government Minister, María Paula Romo, put them at around 1,700 in an interview this week with the local newspaper El Mercurio.

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