Psychosocial Assistance Program for Colombian Refugees in Ecuador

Colombian refugees often arrive in Ecuador suffering the effects of severe trauma. In 2003, HIAS established the Psychosocial Assistance Program for Colombian Refugees in Ecuador in order to help them overcome debilitating symptoms such as anxiety and depression and move forward with their lives.

The Program’s main goal is to improve durable solution options for this refugee community, preparing individuals for integration into their Ecuadorian host-communities or in their resettlement destinations.

The Program has three specific objectives:

  • to provide direct psychological services to survivors of torture and trauma in individual and group settings;
  • to offer therapeutic, community-based workshops, such as literacy training, recreation groups for children, and parenting workshops, that enhance the capacities of refugee survivors attempting to integrate into their communities;
  • to increase the capacity of Ecuadorian service providers and refugee agencies assisting this population through peer trainings by HIAS psychologists.

HIAS has witnessed the benefits of its services as its clients have begun to recover. Some refugees have found jobs in Ecuador and are integrating into society, some require less medical assistance, and many are committed to obtaining an educational degree. Some have been resettled to third countries and many maintain regular contact with the HIAS staff that assisted them in Ecuador. The fact that there have been more referrals generated by the increased word of mouth about the Program among refugees is testament to its effectiveness. In 2007, HIAS assisted more than 10,600 persons through its Psychosocial Services.