Costa Rica Would Double the Number of Foreigners in 2024 to One Million Migrants

    A quarter are minors, experts emphasize

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    The number of foreigners who cross Costa Rica in search of new opportunities in North America has shown a constant upward trend and each time the record is broken.In 2023, 529,348 people were counted and for this year the broadest projection is aimed at almost doubling the figure.

     “Almost a million people are expected to be passing through our country during 2024,” said Shirley Montenegro; National Emergency Officer of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

     The official was part of a forum on migration convened by the National University (UNA) where the trends and needs of this group were analyzed.Montealegre explained that projections are made according to previously observed trends. With this, a floor of 405,191 people is forecast to enter, but given the growing trend, the highest expectation is 980,555 people.


    Putting a human face on them

    Beyond figures and statistics, numbers represent people. With them, different characteristics that can represent very different needs for care.The IOM emphasized the fact that a quarter of the flow involves minors.

     “They are boys and girls who are entering our country who need comprehensive care,” said the expert.A strong component of women also arrives, who are also monitored for security issues and attention to complaints.


    Challenges for water and communities

    Although the bulk of the flow of migrants continues on its way to the United States, the days they are in Costa Rica they face several needs.Among others, the IOM highlighted the roof and safe spaces to spend the night.


    Added to this is also matters relating to water and hygiene. Dehydration was one of the problems detected in many of the travelers; as well as being able to have health services and showers in operation at the care points.


    Another challenge is the work with local populations that are impacted by the arrival of foreigners.“The communities have been the main affected by the reception of the flows and being able to work jointly with the different community groups, being able to have local initiatives has allowed the communities to not be negatively affected and rather also to correctly join the response,” he explained. Montealegre.


    Another notable fact is that the new approach strategies also increased the number of people who chose to return.“The numbers of voluntary returns of people who were entering our country doubled just when the controlled flow was implemented; because it is the first time that people received information, they were oriented,” the speaker concluded.


    An eye on United States Elections

    Although the migration figures projected for 2024 by local authorities were closer to half a million people, they warned about the effects that political decisions will have, mainly from the United States.


    “Let’s remember that we are entering the pre-campaign in the United States this year. The elections in the United States are in November and the immigration issue is an important campaign issue there,” said Foreign Minister Arnoldo André last month.


    There it is worth remembering how the 2022 Legislative Elections and the end of the pandemic emergency care program were triggers for migratory flows in recent years; as people quicken their pace before Washington updates policies.


    For example, an eventual victory of Republican Donald Trump in November could mean stricter measures for entry into the United States, starting in 2025.The future of Gustavo Petro’s Government in Colombia is also observed. Their policies also have a direct impact on migratory movements in other countries.


    In the case of Costa Rica, the authorities maintain a coordinated transfer operation that takes the migrant caravan in buses from the southern border to the northern one.This is a coordinated strategy with Panama, which President Rodrigo Chaves described as successful this past Tuesday.



    Darien encounter

    “What happened in October, when we went to the jungle (about Chaves’ visit to Darién), the agreements that Mr. Cortizo and Mr. Chavez made, today have become an example for the rest of the world of the United Nations; of how to manage, administer, facilitate flows. They are not putting obstacles in Panama, neither are we. What we want is to help people who live in such a desperate situation that they go into a jungle,” said Chaves.


    Both nations have jointly insisted on the need for more resources and that the crisis generators (the countries from which the migrants leave and where they go) collaborate with the receiving and transit countries such as Costa Rica

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