Monday 26 September 2022

On Migrants and their Rights: WILPF Costa Rica

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WILPF members Pascaline Ngon’ba, Ana Mondrus, Adilia Caravaca and Carolyn Ross at their Drawing for Peace project booth at the Peace Festival in Costa Rica.
WILPF members Pascaline Ngon’ba, Ana Mondrus, Adilia Caravaca and Carolyn Ross at their Drawing for Peace project booth at the Peace Festival in Costa Rica.

(OPINION) Once again Costa Rica is called upon to help a wave of migrants at the door. This time they are from different countries in Africa, speaking different languages and following different customs. Their dream is to pass on to the United States to live in peace and security.

They come from countries ruined by war and civil conflict and the extreme poverty caused by corruption, climate change and international exploitation. The Aficans follow a wave of Cubans who were unable to continue their journey north and were given shelter in Costa Rica for four months. And before that a continuous wave of refugees from Nicaragua settled here, leaving behind the war, poverty, political problems and unemployment. To all these people Costa Rica seems like Heaven.

We are seeing a humanitarian crises. Many countries now face a situation of refugees seeking asylem, or at least safety and shelter. Europe, Australia, Malaysia, the United States question how many refugees they can accept within their borders. Their citizens ask if the numbers of refugees will change their own lives.

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These immigrants put their lives at risk. They depend on guides who take their money to cross seas and often abandon them to whatever conditions await them. They leave behind families and friends, patterns of life, oftentimes professional careers, to start over with a new language, new customs, new climate, discrimination and hatred.

Migrants cannot be blamed for their migration. Nor is it the fault of one or two countries. The blame belongs to all of us for our demand for more resources. More petroleum. More land. More markets. More arms for defense. Drugs. All these give rise to violence and criminal bands and militias that destabilize sountries. Our own destruction of the planet makes parts of countries uninhabitable through desertification, floods, or intense storms. And there is the fault of governments and individuals who put power before human life.

To provide and protect so many refugees is an almost impossible task for any country and Costa Rica, with less than five million people, and with many needs at home to fill, now has the burden of finding a solution for thousands of refugees.

But Costa Rica is a humanitarian country, a country that signed the Decalration of Human Rights, and the Treaty for the Rights of Migrants. And also professes spiritual obligations, a part of all faiths, love and help our neighbors in need.

In Costa Rica we are fortunate. We are free from wars and armed conflicts, from serious environmental damage or a lack of basic resources. We need to find a solution that will help those fleeing from conflicts and damage, rather than deport them to the same conditions from which they were forced to escape.

And we, all of us, need to look at the causes that force people to migrate, and do what we can to stop the violence and destruction of our world.

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This article is an OPINION by Olive Branch, the collective name for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Costa Rican section. WILPF was founded in 1915 by women from many countries to promote peace and human rights. Contact us at

Submitted to Qcostarica by Mitzi Stark, 2433-7078, cedula 184000557907

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Mitzi Stark
There are so many interesting things going on in Costa Rica and most of the 'gringos' don't know about them because they don't follow the Spanish language media. So I want to let them know what's going on. My home town is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I've been in Costa Rica since 1979 and I live near Alajuela in the campo. I have a journalism degree from the Univ. of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and have written for the Tico Times and other publications. I'm an activist for peace and animal welfare and have organized spay-neuter campaigns.

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