Sunday 5 February 2023

Fundación Arias report: Nicaraguan refugees have a high academic level, but live in precarious conditions in Costa Rica

Research reveals that the vast majority of Nicaragua exiles are young professionals or have completed university or high school studies; however, they suffer unemployment or their income is less than a minimum wage

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4 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Since 2018, many children, youth, and adults have left Nicaragua to seek refuge in Costa Rica for fear of threats from the government of Daniel Ortega

The majority of Nicaraguan exiles maintain the faith of being able to return to their homeland in peace and with an established democracy, yes, they affirm that it will be after the departure of Daniel Ortega from power

However, their stay on Costa Rican soil has been marked by poverty, unemployment, and a variety of sociodemographic situations that the Arias Foundation for Peace brings to light in the report Las caras del exilio nicaragüense en Costa Rica (The faces of Nicaraguan exile in Costa Rica).

“The exiles have suffered precarious conditions that remain until now and are expressed in the low quality of jobs, the low income they receive and their high dependence on humanitarian aid,” says the report.

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According to the research, released this Monday by the Foundation, the results reveal that these Nicaraguan migrants have the characteristics of being, for the most part, men between 16 and 30 years old with a university level are the majority in the group of Nicaraguan migrants who arrived in the country as of 2018 when the Nicaraguan government responded with a policy of repression and violence to the wave of social protests that emerged that year.

Thousands of Nicaraguans were forcibly displaced to Costa Rica.

Faced with this, the Arias Foundation set itself the objective of identifying the current conditions in which Nicaraguan exiles find themselves, what new challenges they face and the expectations they have about their future.

For the research, of the sample of 500 people interviewed, 50.2% are men, 38.8% to women, and the rest identify with the LGBTIQ community.

Issues such as their sociodemographic profile of the exiles were addressed; their immigration status, family situation, the minors accompanying them, access to humanitarian aid, violations of their human rights, their exposure to expressions of xenophobia; and their perceptions regarding the political situation in Nicaragua.

Unlike other migrant groups, this gorup registers an increase in academic level: 33.5% have an unfinished university, 25.3% have a professional level, 2% have a specialty and 1% have a master’s degree.

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Despite this, 63.3% report not having occupation while the rest are in temporary or informal jobs, for example, 1.2% are dedicated to agricultural work, 3.8% to construction, 4.6% to commerce, 8.6 % is dedicated to providing professional services in sectors such as education and health, and 15.4% is dedicated to providing services as a home assistant, among others.

A third of the sample (35.1%) has a monthly income of less than ¢100,000 colones (US$167 dollars), 15.7% obtain between ¢100,000 and ¢150,000 and 16.3% between ¢150,000 and ¢200,000.

The study also revealed that a large part of them have an interest in regulating their immigration status in Costa Rica.

More than 40% are waiting to be approved for refugee status, 15.9% are awaiting the final resolution of the authorities and only 6.2% have refugee status already approved.

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The Nicaraguan population in Costa Rica more than doubled, from 40,000 refugee applicants in February 2019 to 90,299 applications in February 2020, according to data fromDirección de Migración y Extranjería (DGME), Costa Rica’s immigration service.

Publicizing the conditions in which Nicaraguan exiles live in Costa Rica is the objective of the survey carried out by the Arias Foundation, since 2019.

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