The political and social crisis that Nicaragua is experiencing has Costa Rica on the verge of a migratory crisis for which it may not be prepared due to lack of resources.
The entrance of 3,300 refugees only during June and more than 10,000 applications in total, reflect the fear of Nicaraguans of the President Daniel Ortega regime.
The government’s concern is that if the number of refugees reaches 5,000 it would amount to an immigration crisis.
We still can not talk about a crisis, but the country is On alert.
Epsy Campbell, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister.
Unlike migrants, refugees are people fleeing armed conflict, violence or persecution and are therefore forced to cross the border to seek safety, entering the country without assets or work, so the Costa Rican government has to care for them, providing food & shelter, medical assistance and other services.
This month, the migratory flow of Nicaraguans – between refugees and migrants with a visa – has reached one thousand people a week.
Although the government has a comprehensive action plan to deal with migratory flows, it would not be enough. “Extraordinary resources are required to meet an eventual extraordinary flow of refugees. We still cannot talk about a crisis, but the country is on alert,” said Epsy Campbell, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister.
Last week, the government opened two shelters, one in La Cruz de Guanacaste, in the north and the other in Golfito, in the southern zone, near the Panama border.
The facilities are the same used three years ago, to address the migration crisis faced by the country, due to the massive influx of Cubans and Africans, among others, unable to leave Costa Rica a due to Nicaragua closing its borders to them.
The political turmoil in Nicaragua that has resulted in more than 300 deaths and thousands injured since mid-April is closely followed by the Costa Rican government, not only because of the potential migration crisis but also because of the impact it would generate on trade, acknowledges Costa Rican president, Carlos Alvarado.
Nicaragua is the fourth destination of Costa Rican exports with US$566 million in 2017, including cement, syrups, medicines, and sauces, among others.