Thursday 9 February 2023

Nicaraguans continue stranded at the doorsteps of their homeland

Their country requires from them a negative COVID-19 test result to allow entry

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8 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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(QCOSTARICA) An estimated 300 and up to 500 Nicaraguans remain stranded on the Nicaraguan side of the Peñas Blancas border, as their government won’t let them in.

They have been denied entry into their homeland until they have a negative COVID-19 test certification, carried out 72 hours in advance.

The Nicaraguans were caught by surprise by the requirement.

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Tuesday night, July 22, Nicaraguan immigration authorities authorized the entry of 30 people, including women and children, however, they did not allow more people to pass. Likewise, Wednesday night, they guaranteed the entry of two Nicaraguans who did carry the corresponding test.

These people cannot return to the Costa Rica side of the border, having already checked out with Costa Rica immigration; However, they indicate that they do not want to re-enter Costa Rica since what they want is to return to Nicaragua.

At the moment it is unknown if there are negotiations between both governments.

“It is important to highlight that these Nicaraguan people are not part of the coordinated process between Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama (the convoys of Nicaraguans passing through Costa Rica from Panama), which has continued to function properly and smoothly,” said immigration in a statement.

“We have to avoid the conglomeration in the Peñas Blancas area because it is a small area. It is not a space that can be inhabited or that has sanitary services to be able to maintain the people in that sector,” affirmed the director of immigration, Raquel Vargas.

The director asked of Nicaraguans in Costa Rica not to arrive at the border without having a negative COVID-19 test certification, since they will be denied entry by Nicaraguan authorities.

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“They require humanitarian aid, is the first impression of the crowds of people under the sun and rain, there is one bathroom for more than 500 people,” denounced Yader Valdivia, from the Nicaraguan human rights collective, Nicaragua Nunca Más, based in Costa Rica.

The human rights organization described as “reprehensible” that the government denies entry to its people, alleging that they must present negative evidence of COVID-19 to be admitted.

Nicaraguan citizens attempted to force their entry into the country, but were repelled by anti-riot forces that remain in the area, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH).

“It is their obligation as a government to test them for COVID-19, and according to the results, guarantee their health and not leave them at the border,” CENIDH explained on its social networks.

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The president of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), Marcos Carmona, visited the border to advocate for migrants, but authorities “have not allowed us to speak,” he told local media.

Carmona denounced that more than a sanitary measure, “we see a business” because they are charging US$150 for people to have access to the tests.

The Nicaraguan government has yet to comment on the situation on the border.

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