23,000 Nicaraguans seek asylum in Costa Rica: UN
GENEVA, Switzerland — Nearly 23,000 people fleeing turmoil in Nicaragua have sought asylum in neighboring Costa Rica, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday, as it announced a beefed up presence in the region.
Three months of protests against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s rule and the brutal response by security forces and paramilitary groups have killed more than 300 people, according to rights groups.
“The number of asylum applications by Nicaraguans in neighboring Costa Rica and other countries has increased exponentially,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva.
Costa Rican authorities have registered nearly 8,000 asylum claims since April and given future appointments to 15,000 other asylum seekers, a delay needed because the processing system is “overwhelmed,” Spindler said.
“UNHCR is strengthening its presence in Costa Rica’s northern border region and… is gearing up its response capacity to provide immediate protection and assistance to thousands of Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers,” he added.
While Costa Rica has endured the brunt of the influx, Panama, Mexico and the United States have also seen an increase in Nicaraguan arrivals, UNHCR said.
Ortega, 72, headed a left-wing Sandinista government during the Cold War, and returned to power in 2007.
Protesters have demanded that he and his powerful vice president, wife Rosario Murillo, resign.
You may be interested
Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Monday, October 19Alejandro Zúñiga - October 19, 2020
Costa Rica announced 36 new coronavirus-related deaths since Friday for a total of 1,204, according to official data released Monday…
No road blockades reported as of late Monday morningThe Tico Times - October 19, 2020
The Public Security Ministry (MSP) on Monday reported no known blockades on Costa Rican roads and highways. At 11:35 a.m.…
We asked the Costa Rican Tourism Board your most pressing questionsAlejandro Zúñiga - October 19, 2020
Since August 1, Costa Rica has gradually allowed for tourists from select countries. Beginning in November, anyone who meets a…