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Recommendations for Action
Friday, March 25, 2011

• The U.S. should raise refugee concerns as a priority issue in diplomatic relations with Panama, advocating for reform of the asylum system and addressing xenophobia in addition to demanding improvements in the protection and assistance provided to vulnerable refugees. U.S. foreign assistance to Panama should be structured so as to encourage refugee protection and development opportunities for both refugee and host communities in need.
• UNHCR should establish a resettlement program for Colombian refugees in Panama and increase its presence in the Darien, as should NGOs and other U.N. agencies, prioritizing access to durable solutions for the 863 people that have Temporary Humanitarian Protection status in the border region.  

• UNHCR should ensure that refugee children receive Best Interest Determinations that take into consideration durable solutions, family reunification, and permanency planning in both Panama and Ecuador. 

• The U.S. should increase assistance to Ecuador in recognition of its effort to expand the protection space for refugees, and in recognition of the needs it has identified. The U.S. should increase the use of resettlement as a strategic protection tool for Colombian refugees in Ecuador by increasing its own response and by supporting resettlement within the region.

• For those who can safely remain in Ecuador, the U.S. should fund efforts aimed at integrating Colombian refugees into Ecuadorian society, placing special emphasis on livelihoods, housing, education, access to naturalization, and combating xenophobia.
• U.N. agencies and NGOs should expand their presence on the Ecuador-Colombia border to increase protection for refugee and host communities. The UN and U.S. should work with the Ecuadorian government to expand protection for survivors of SGBV by increasing the capacity of local police and prosecutors to respond to cases of SGBV; training security forces about SGBV; and, providing access to safe housing and income generating opportunities for women. 

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