(QCOSTARICA) The majority of Nicaraguan refugees or asylum seekers in Costa Rica go hungry and only have access to one or two meals a day, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned last Friday.
“Before the pandemic, and thanks to effective local integration initiatives in Costa Rica, only 3% of refugees ate once a day or less,” UNHCR said in a statement.
However, “this has quadrupled to 14%, according to a humanitarian assessment carried out by UNHCR in July and August.”
Migrants have been severely affected by the containment measures adopted to stop the spread of Covid-19.
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The same evaluation revealed that 63% of Nicaraguan refugees or asylum seekers can only eat twice a day.
“Refugee host communities are facing similar conditions and the economic downturn in these countries will make it even more difficult for refugees and host communities to recover,” UNHCR warned.
According to the organization, 81,000 Nicaraguans left their country after the repressive wave unleashed by the 2018 protests, which demanded the departure of President Daniel Ortega. Of that total, 80% settled in Costa Rica.
Nicaraguan refugees in other countries in the region, such as Panama, Mexico and Guatemala, reported similar problems, according to UNHCR.
Many of them returned to their country as a result of the loss of employment in their countries of asylum, but faced obstacles from the Nicaraguan government, which demanded negative proof of COVID-19 to allow them to return.