The director of Costa Rica’s immigration service, Raquel Vargas, said on Sunday that the number of Nicaraguans who have fled to Costa Rica in the past six months is of no less than 30,000.
Vargas said they are seeking refuge from the violence and persecution in their home country, a result of the socio-political crisis that began mid-April.
Vargas make the on the “Esta Semana” television show, broadcast by the privately-owned Channel 12 in Managua.
She acknowledged that not all the Nicaraguans arriving in Costa Rica are seeking refugee status, of the estimated 30,000 around 23,000 have requested to be treated as refugees. Of that total, more than 17,000 already have their provisional card which allows them to have legal permanence in Costa Rica.
The immigration director explained that the Nicaraguan refugees reached Costa Rica by airplane and also through the “blind spots” along the common land border.
Vargas added that country is able to manage the mass migration thanks to a comprehensive plan which involves 33 public institutions, a plan developed after the arrival of 8,000 Cubans and almost 3.000 Africans in 2015 and 2016 on their way to the United States.
The peak month for Nicaraguan refugee claims, according to immigration records, was July with more than 5,000 arriving that month alone. The massive refugee claims began in June when the number of requests went from less than 100 to more than 3,300 that month.
The Costa Rican government has two main immigration centers for Nicaraguans, one in the North, in the area of La Cruz, near the Peñas Blancas land border with Nicaragua and one in the South, near the Paso Canoas border with Panama.