UNHCR urges international support for Costa Rica as increasing numbers flee Nicaragua
The UNHCR has called for international support for Costa Rica and other Central American countries offering refuge to those fleeing political tension, violence and human rights violations in Nicaragua.
Over the last few months the number of asylum applications from Nicaraguans into Costa Rica and other neighbouring countries has increased dramatically. An average of 200 asylum applications are being logged on a daily basis in Costa Rica.
Since April over 8,000 Nicaraguans have applied for asylum in Costa Rica and a further 15,000 have been given appointments for later registration as the country’s processing capacities have been overwhelmed by the number of applications.
UNHCR is now offering support to the migration authority to increase its capacity from 200 to 500 claims each day.
In addition, the organisation is increasing its presence in Costa Rica’s northern border region and, in collaboration with the Costa Rican government and other agencies and NGOs, is scaling up its response capacity to offer protection and assistant to Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers.
It is estimated that an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 Nicaraguan families already living in Costa Rica are offering support to friends, relatives and other Nicaraguans.
Costa Rica’s borders remain open to Nicaraguans, aligning with its long tradition of solidarity and refugee protection. The UNHCR has urged the international community to support the government of Costa Rica, and other countries hosting the refugees.
Across Central America and Mexico there is a collective regional action plan (Global Compact on Refugees and the application of the Regional Refugee Response Framework) aimed at strengthening protection and promoting solutions in countries of origin, transit and destination.
Although Costa Rica has received the most asylum claims, Mexico, Panama and USA have also recorded a growing number of Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers in the first half of 2018. The numbers significantly peaked in June. However, the actual numbers in these countries have remained in the low hundreds, with countries such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are transit countries.
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Image Credit: Edgard Garrido/Reuters