Wednesday 22 March 2023

From Germany to Yemen: more than 60 nationalities seek refuge in Costa Rica

Events such as the change in immigration policies in North America have generated focused waves of transit of foreigners arriving in Costa Rica, several of whom have stayed in the country seeking refuge.

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22 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Although the majority of refugee claimants in Costa Rica come from neighboring countries, the list is global and ranges from the most developed nations to the furthest corners of Asia and Africa.

Events such as the change in immigration policies in North America have generated focused waves of transit of foreigners arriving in Costa Rica, several of whom have stayed in the country seeking refuge. Photo: Tomás Gómez / El Observador

Up to October 31 last, Costa Rica had 75,787 refugee applications.

An analysis made by El Observador of official data from the Dirección General de Migración Extranjería (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service,  shows that there are applications – reception procedures – from a total of 64 nationalities.

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In the “Top 10”, by a wide margin, Nicaraguans are the majority: 9 out of 10 applicants are from the neighbor to the north. The other nine are: Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Russia, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Ecuador.

According to the DGME, Russia is the only non-Latin American country in the top 10.

Some striking facts, stand out such as the DGME receiving 48 applications from Russians in a single month (the month was not detailed); a number of applicants for refuge in Costa Rica are from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain; and there is a group 21 stateless persons, people that no country recognizes as theirs, which leaves them highly vulnerable at the legal level.

Another striking fact is that even from countries like the United States, Canada or Great Britain, citizens have come to ask for help.

They are joined by 21 stateless persons. These are people that no country recognizes as its own, which leaves them highly vulnerable at the legal level.a constant flow

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On average, every day 249 foreigners request refuge in Costa Rica, the frist quarter of the year being a peak, in specific, March was the month with the most requests.

Although there was a slowdown as the year progressed, for the last quarter, there was a rebound.

Changes to the refugee process

The attention to refugees has been a recurring theme for the country, especially due to the economic aspect.

In recent months, the Government raised its concerns and complained internationally about the lack of support. This was accompanied by changes in the regulatory framework.

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Read more: Costa Rica modified regulations for refugee applications

According to President Rodrigo Chaves, the modification will consist of differentiating “economic migrants” from refugee applicants, who do require protection due to persecution in their countries.

“Sometimes people abuse generosity,” Chaves said.

Among the changes, a specific rule was generated for Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Cubans, who are the majority:

  • Have made the request for recognition of refugee status after January 1, 2010, until September 30, 2022.
  • Have resided in the national territory from the moment you form your application to access this category
  • That the refugee application is pending resolution or has been firmly denied on the date of entry into force of the decree
  • That they do not have another category of permanence in the country duly approved.

The DGME expects that up to half of the applications in process could decide to opt to this new category.

Source: El Observador

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