Sending-country violence and receiving-country discrimination: Effects on the health of Colombian refugees in Ecuador

Michele G. Shedlin, Carlos U. Decena, Hugo Noboa, Óscar Betancourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study explored factors affecting the health and well being of recent refugees from Colombia in Ecuador. Data collection focused on how sending-country violence and structural violence in a new environment affect immigrant health vulnerability and risk behaviors. A qualitative approach included ethnographic observation, media content analysis, focus groups, and individual interviews with refugees (N = 137). The focus groups (5) provided perspectives on the research domains by sex workers; drug users; male and female refugees; and service providers. Social and economic marginalization are impacting the health and well being of this growing refugee population. Data illustrate how stigma and discrimination affect food and housing security, employment and health services, and shape vulnerabilities and health risks in a new receiving environment. Widespread discrimination in Ecuador reflects fears, misunderstanding, and stereotypes about Colombian refugees. For this displaced population, the sequelae of violence, combined with survival needs and lack of support and protections, shape new risks to health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Discrimination
  • Health
  • Refugees
  • South America
  • Violence


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