The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also known as the UN Refugee Agency, is a United Nations agency mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ecuador hosts the largest refugee population in Latin America, with over 54,800 refugees officially recognized by the Government as of September 2013. An estimated 160,000 individuals have requested asylum in the country since 2000. The vast majority of refugees in Ecuador (98 per cent) are Colombians who have left their country over the last decade due to the internal conflict. New arrivals continue to reach Ecuador at a rate of 1,000 per month. Sixty per cent of refugees and asylum-seekers settle in marginal and poor urban areas, mainly in Quito and Guayaquil and other cities, while around 40 per cent reside in isolated regions with limited basic services and infrastructure, along the northern border.