An advocacy group in Ecuador has created a fund to help LGBTQ people and Venezuelan refugees in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
Diálogo Diverso describes its Solidarity for Diversity campaign as an “emergency fund” to support LGBTQ Ecuadorians and Venezuelan refugees who live in the country’s capital of Quito and in the cities of Guayaquil and Manta.
Diálogo Diverso Director Danilo Manzano told the Washington Blade on Monday during a WhatsApp interview from Quito the fund hopes to raise $100,000 for roughly 200 LGBTQ families who live in Quito, Guayaquil and Manta.
Manzano said the money will be used to help the families pay rent and to provide them with food, toilet paper and other basic supplies for two months.
He told the Blade the fund is part of Diálogo Diverso’s ongoing efforts to provide assistance — health care and access to lawyers, psychologists and social workers, among other things — to LGBTQ Ecuadorians and Venezuelans who have sought refuge in the country. Manzano also noted the U.N. Refugee Agency and the Australian and Canadian governments support Diálogo Diverso’s work.
“We have tried to meet the needs of LGBT people and especially Venezuelans who are migrants or refugees in the most comprehensive way possible,” Manzano told the Blade.
Statistics from Ecuador’s Ministry of Public Health indicate there are 8,225 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country with 403 deaths. Guayaquil, which is Ecuador’s largest city and main port, has become an epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America.
The Ecuadorian government says there are currently 5,754 confirmed coronavirus cases and 187 deaths in Guayas province in which Guayaquil is located. Media reports indicate dead bodies have been left in the city’s streets because the pandemic has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues.
“Guayaquil has the biggest need,” Manzano told the Blade. “The city is the focus of the pandemic.”
Manzano said LGBTQ people and Venezuelan migrants have become even more vulnerable because they cannot work and travel freely.
“The situation is very complicated because they don’t have the financial resources to be able to support themselves day-to-day,” he told the Blade. “It is therefore a very difficult situation.”
Manzano also said people have run out of medications because they cannot leave their homes.
“The coronavirus crisis affects the poorest people,” he told the Blade. “In this case the Venezuelan community is doubly or triply vulnerable and at-risk.”
Manzano said the Ecuadorian government’s response to the pandemic does not take into account the specific needs of LGBTQ Ecuadorians and Venezuelan migrants. Manzano told the Blade that Diálogo Diverso continues to work with local advocacy groups to deliver supplies to LGBTQ people in Guayaquil, Quito and Manta.
The fund can be found here.