efe-epaQuito

Ecuador has provisionally eliminated the passport requirement for Venezuelan children and teenagers who arrive in this country with their parents or guardians, provided the latter are carrying their own passports, the Ecuadorian Ombudsman's Office told EFE on Sunday.

"Presenting a valid passport will not be a requirement ... for children and teenagers coming from ... Venezuela, in the capacity of tourists, transients or with the intention of settling in Ecuador," a statement by the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry document, to which EFE obtained access, says that children and teens will not need a passport, provided that they are accompanied by their parents - or guardians - who are in possession of "valid" documents.

The parents must be able to prove their relationship with the youngsters accompanying them using "valid documents," including original birth certificates or certified copies of same.

It will also be a requirement for children and teens who arrive in the company of a guardian that the latter must "conclusively prove the ... guardianship via valid documents in accord with international treaties, rules and regulations governing the matter," the statement said.

Ombudsman Gina Benavides told EFE that in Venezuela identity cards and passports are not issued to children under age 9, although birth certificates are.

She said that her office had determined on Saturday that, were Ecuadorian authorities to insist that all entering foreigners have passports, this could lead to "divided families" among Venezuelans entering Ecuador.

She said that she was concerned because she said that the shift was merely a "patch" placed on the surprise decision announced by the government of Lenin Moreno last Thursday to demand passports from all Venezuelan citizens desiring to enter Ecuador.

"When a measure is taken it must be comprehensively analyzed, looking specifically at the consequences it will have," Benavides said, adding that now Ecuadorian authorities are realizing "that there are situations that were not foreseen by a measure that, pure and simple, ... established that all people must enter with a passport."

She added that the decision to demand passports from all Venezuelans "is not legal or constitutional" and violates "basic principles of humanitarian attention, ... because in (Venezuela's) case there is a humanitarian crisis and the public ... needs protection."