The number of Nicaraguans seeking asylum has skyrocketed in Costa Rica, as an overflowing immigration service receives UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency – support to increase the registration of displaced persons.

The continuing violence and repression in Nicaragua has led to a rise in refugee claims in Costa Rica, overwhelming the country’s immigration service

Currently, 200 asylum applications are being processed every day, but the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGMIE) –  Costa Rica’s immigration service – is expected to increase capacity to 500.

Since April, some 8,000 Nicaraguans have requested asylum in the country, with some 15,000 more having an appointment to register later as the country’s capacity to process them is overwhelmed.

According to William Spindler, spokesperson for the UNHCR, many of the Nicaraguan citizens who leave their country are welcomed by the between 100,000 to 150,000 Nicaraguan families that already live in Costa Rica and that offer them an “initial safety net”.

Although Costa Rica has received the most requests for asylum, the number of Nicaraguans seeking asylum has also risen in Panama, Mexico and the United States, according to the UNHCR.