This Week in Restoring Family Links 4/25/2016 - 4/29/2016

Ecuador: Ecuador is still reeling from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the coast on April 16, which has caused 655 deaths and about 4,600 critical injuries; both of which continue to climb as rescue crews search and pull people from the rubble. The capital of Quito did not report extensive damage, but six coastal provinces have been placed under a state of emergency. Much of these provinces' infrastructure is severely damaged, and thousands are still left stranded without reliable communication, aid supplies, or running water. The Ecuadorian government has deployed 10,000 armed forces members to these provinces to set up temporary shelters and hospitals. 

International organizations, including several Red Cross National Societies, have been mobilized to assist them in sorting out the immediate damage. The governments of Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, and others have sent rescue teams to help assist Ecuadorian efforts, and several EU member states have sent engineers and special capabilities to provide for drinking water, as well as their own rescue teams and relief packages. Reconstruction is estimated to cost hundreds of billions, and so several nations and international organizations are allocating funds to help. The EU Commission has thus far set aside €1 million for initial relief efforts, and the International Organization for Migration has increased its funding pledge from $100,000 to $500,000. 

On Wednesday, Ecuador was dealt another blow by torrential El Nino downpours causing two rivers to overflow, immediately killing four and damaging several homes due to landslides. Though the flooding was mostly in non-coastal provinces, it has added additional stress and confusion to an already vulnerable country. 

The American Red Cross continues to offer support recovery efforts in Ecuador and resources for contacting loved ones through its Restoring Family Links program. For more information on how to reconnect with those whom contact has been lost, please click here. 

Migrants make a victory sign as garbage bins burn at the Moria migrant detention center on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos Tuesday. A protest broke out in Moria during a visit there by the Greek migration affairs minister and a Dutch official, with protesters, mainly unaccompanied teenagers, setting fires and riot police on standby. Photo Credit: Petros Tsakmakis, Intime News

Migrants make a victory sign as garbage bins burn at the Moria migrant detention center on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos Tuesday. A protest broke out in Moria during a visit there by the Greek migration affairs minister and a Dutch official, with protesters, mainly unaccompanied teenagers, setting fires and riot police on standby. Photo Credit: Petros Tsakmakis, Intime News

Deportations to Turkey: On Tuesday, Greece deported a third group of refugees and migrants to Turkey, under the procedures of the EU-Turkey deal. A total of 49 from Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, and Pakistan were ferried to Turkey from detention centers on the Greek islands. On the other hand of the deal, Turkey has so far released 350 Syrians to be resettled in the EU,  with an almost-even 340 deported to match. 

On the same day as the deportation of the third group, a protest broke out in the Moria detention camp in Greece during a visit by Greece's Migration Affairs Minister and the Dutch Junior Justice Minister. Those in the camp began shouting "freedom" and "open the borders" as the two passed through, and fires were lit from garbage piles. Police said the situation was under control and that no violence erupted, but as in the case of the Idomeni camp, it is unlikely that this will be the last demonstration of frustration. 

Elsewhere in Europe this week, a vote in the UK House of Commons defeated an amendment to an immigration bill that would resettle and additional 3,000 vulnerable Syrian children refugees to Britain. Opponents of the bill cited potential "pull factors" to other refugees if they had allowed the resettlement of those children, to which the shadow immigration minister Keir Starmer promised that "the fight will go on" to help bring stranded refugees into the UK.