The Government of Costa Rica will maintain its historical policy of humanitarian attention for refugees, but warned that it needs international support because its resources are scarce to deal with the migratory waves it receives.
This was stated by the Costa Rican foreign minister, Arnoldo André Tinoco, in an interview with EFE last Thursday, in which he assured that attention to the migratory phenomenon must be shared by the countries of the region, international organizations and that, in addition, it must have financial support for countries with fiscal problems such as Costa Rica. “The issue of migration is not a national problem; It is international and regional. Costa Rica presents a unique characteristic as a country that receives migrants, contrary to the other countries in the area that are emitters”, the foreign minister pointed out.
He also affirmed that his country currently has “an amount that exceeds the limits of reasonableness in refugee applicants, estimated at some 140,000 people waiting,” the majority Nicaraguans, he said. André Tinoco expressed that Costa Rica has a “limited administrative capacity” to serve refugee applicants, which means that there are appointments for interviews that are taking place in 7 or 8 years. The largest flow of migrants that historically arrives in Costa Rica comes from neighboring Nicaragua, which has increased since 2018 with the sociopolitical crisis that broke out in that country with the protests against the government of Daniel Ortega and the repression with which he responded.
To worsen this are the flows of Cubans, Venezuelans and Haitians who enter through the border with Panama, many of whom continue their journey north of the continent to the United States, but many others remain in Costa Rica. “Costa Rica is going to continue with its policy of humanitarian host and following the principles of the refuge, but it has clarified that the financial situation does not allow it to attend to this situation alone and requires international financial support. It seems unfair to have to go into debt and pay interest to solve a problem whose origin is not Costa Rica”, said the foreign minister.
André Tinoco explained that Costa Rica has made an analysis of its needs in this area in the short, medium and long term to present it to the international community in search of financial support, ideally non-reimbursable. In this sense, the United States has been one of the countries to which Costa Rica has turned for support and bilateral meetings have already been held to address the treatment of the migration crisis. “The United States visited us with a large delegation at a work table in which we are looking for ways to achieve the support that we so much need for this problem, which includes refugees and the populations that receive them”, he said.
Costa Rica is a country of 5.1 million inhabitants and according to official data around 10% of them are migrants. However, that figure may be higher, according to some calculations. For example, Foreign Minister André said that between 750,000 and 1 million Nicaraguans currently live in Costa Rica. “We are a poor country that has strong local needs that are unattended, and to this are added those of migrants, with a fiscal restriction because the country cannot borrow more. The country does everything possible, but without international help we will not be able to increase the level of attention to them », he concluded.
The foreign minister, who took office on May 8th along with the new government of President Rodrigo Chaves, said that Costa Rica has a State policy regarding foreign affairs, which is reflected in several pillars, among which is the protection of human rights (HR).