Since March, when so-called rescue or repatriation flights began, to date, almost 2,400 Costa Ricans and residents have been able to return to the country in an attempt to escape the covid-19 pandemic.
They came from 83 countries.
This figure includes the 300 arriving Tuesday night, on a flight from Madrid, Spain.
They are all part of the some 3,000 Costa Ricans scattered around the world who told Costa Rican consular representations their desire to return to Costa Rica. Some were passing through, visiting, other countries when world travel shut down, others had a life abroad.
A total of 728 are yet to make it back to Costa Rica, waiting on five more flights, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The reasons are of a different nature. For example, the closing of borders, the cancellation of flights by airlines, internal health measures, and even the curfew in some countries taken as a result of the covid-19.
“In some cases, when the possibilities of charter flights were announced at the time, people did not take them. But then, upon verifying the extension of the measures, they were interested. In others, the cost of the ticket and the availability of flight dates make options difficult,” explained the Foreign Ministry.
Each transfer involves coordinated work between Costa Rica’s embassies and consulates abroad, the immigration service and Civil Aviation, among other institutions.
According to the Foreign Minister Rodolfo Solano, there are some 64,000 Costa Ricans living abroad, and when taking into account those studying abroad, the number is nealry 100,000
Solano assured that consulates where available are there to assist them.
A total of 162 flights from 12 countries brought the Ticos home.
The diplomatic efforts, in addition to repatriating Costa Ricans, involved helping 4,917 foreigners from 17 different countries get back home, who left Costa Rica left on 44 flights. Some had remained in Costa Rica as tourists, while others were passing through, and others only arrived from other Central American countries to board the flights, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry has insisted that it does not have its own financial resources for repatriation or for humanitarian assistance to Costa Ricans abroad.
“There is only a limited repatriation fund managed by immigration, which only applies to exceptional cases of extreme and proven vulnerability,” the press office of the chancellery clarified without going into details.
For that reason, Solano held an initiative by the Costa Rican North American Chamber of Commerce in Costa Rica (Amcham) and the Business Development Alliance (AED) to raise funds to repatriate who have no way to pay for a ticket.
According to the Chancellery, each case has its own complexity.
“It must also be taken into account multiple diplomatic, operational and logistical efforts, overflight permits, sanitary permits for the internal mobilization of Costa Ricans, negotiations with private airlines, consular aspects that must be resolved to make possible the return to the country”, it explained.