Ibarra is the capital of the Imbabura Province in northern Ecuador. Around 140,000 people live in this city, located about 70 kilometers from the country’s capital Quito.
Poverty however, is still widespread: 27% of people in the province live in poverty. Women in Ibarra suffer even more, often being victim of physical or sexual violence. Furthermore, many Venezuelan refugees pass through, or decide to stay in, Ibarra.
Since 1979, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ibarra.
Since 2015, 1.2 million Venezuelan refugees have entered Ecuador. Most of them move on to other countries, but an estimated 500,000 refugees decide to stay in Ecuador. Many enter the country at the Colombian border, on foot, and Ibarra is one of the first Ecuadorian cities they pass.
The Ecuadorian government is struggling to respond to all the urgent needs, like food and shelter; and the administrative needs, like access to social services. Not only do Venezuelans face challenges around employment, housing and legal status; they also suffer from xenophobia. Children suffer most from these harsh living situations and insecurity.
Many women in Ecuador face violence: 40% of Ecuadorian women have been victims of physical or sexual violence, and 70% of women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.
Around 8% of all crimes in Ecuador happen in Imbabura, the province where Ibarra is located. 20% of these crimes are linked to sexual violence.
The Ecuadorian president has vowed to eradicate gender-biased violence, but this will require a major push from the government. Children are most impacted by this violence, directly or indirectly.