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UN commissioner in Costa Rica to evaluate response to Latin America refugee crisis

Kelly Clements, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, is in Costa Rica on Feb. 7-8 to evaluate the response to the large quantity of Nicaraguan and Venezuelan refugees who seek asylum in the Central American country.

Clements will meet with President Carlos Alvarado “to detail and coordinate the cooperation actions promoted by UN Refugee Agency in Costa Rica and analyze the evolution of the situation of forced displacement in the region,” according to a press release from Casa Presidencial.

Clements will also travel to the northern part of the country to meet with Nicaraguan asylum seekers and the communities that host them, Casa Presidencial said.

The visit from Clements — part of a Central American tour that includes Panama and El Salvador — comes after President Alvarado asked for support for countries like Costa Rica that handle large numbers of refugees with limited resources.

There are currently more than 87,000 applications for refuge in Costa Rica, of which 80% are from Nicaraguans and 7% are from Venezuelans, according to government data.

Meanwhile, Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has urged Costa Rica to expedite the processing of refugee requests at a time when thousands of Nicaraguans await a response to their applications.

Among the initiatives receiving financial support from the UN is a project to offer health care to 6,000 refugees “with serious health conditions and in extreme poverty during this year,” according to Casa Presidencial.

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