Operation: Costa Rica
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|2021 planning figures|
|19,000||people will be registered for further assistance|
|6,960||household to be supported with cash assistance|
|4,000||refugees and asylum seekers will receive legal assistance|
|2019 year-end results|
|16,200||people of concern were registered by UNHCR in 2019 (73% of whom were Nicaraguans)|
|11,300||people of concern (70% of total registered) received assistance from UNHCR or partners|
|6,200||sectoral cash transfers were distributed to meet emergency shelter, food and education needs|
|3,100||people of concern received guidance on labor market opportunities|
|2,200||households (approximately 6,500 individuals) received multipurpose cash transfers for 3 months|
People of Concern
Operational environmentAt the end of 2020 Costa Rica was host to approximately 100,000 people of concern , including asylum-seekers and refugees from Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, the North of Central America, as well as from further afield – people arriving as part of mixed movements. By the end 2021, it is expected that, if arrivals continue at the present rate, the total population of concern could reach over 165,000.
Since April 2018, at least 80,000 Nicaraguans fled violence and persecution seeking safety in Costa Rica. Nicaragua’s national elections, scheduled for November 2021, are likely to exacerbate the complex sociopolitical and human rights situation in the country, compounded by an economic downturn and a potential health sector collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, triggering additional forced displacement of Nicaraguans in the coming year.
For refugees and asylum-seekers already settled in Costa Rica, the pandemic and containment measures have hampered sustainable employment and integration opportunities. The pandemic has exacerbated the need for basic services including food, livelihoods and shelter, and required support to prevent evictions.
Despite national efforts to scale up services to respond to increased arrivals, lengthy wait times for Identification documents as asylum-seekers, work permits, and decisions are affecting asylum-seekers’ ability to access basic rights such as food, shelter, work and healthcare.
Despite many challenges faced by refugees, asylum-seekers, migrants and others in mixed movements with protection needs as a result of the pandemic, Costa Rica’s national chapter of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, locally known as MINARE, remains one of the most robust protection and solutions frameworks in the region. The MINARE has allowed the country to develop good practices and to strengthen the refugee response encouraging collaboration numerous stakeholders from the civil society, the private sector, local governments and academia to support the inclusion process, including. MINARE´s implementation also includes the development of a resource mobilization strategy based on the quantification of State´s response and funding gaps.
Key prioritiesIn 2021, UNHCR in Costa Rica will focus on:
- Ensuring access to territory and asylum for persons seeking safety, strengthening the asylum process and ensuring timely provision of asylum documentation and work permits.
- Improving the access of population of concern to rights through legal aid partnerships.
- Engaging in regular capacity-building activities for national/local authorities and civil society organizations on issues of protection and solutions.
- Strengthening cash assistance programs, livelihoods and economic inclusion to counter the deterioration of the economy and the job market, which has increased socioeconomic inequalities.
- In partnership with Costa Rica´s Social Security Entity, UNHCR will focus on providing health insurance for vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees.