More than 100,000 people have fled Nicaragua in the two years since the Central American country plunged into political and social crisis, the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday.
Even after the initial surge of violence in April 2018 subsided, students, human rights defenders, journalists and farmers in particular have continued to flee at an average rate of 4,000 a month, said UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo.
“More than 100,000 people have fled reported persecution and human rights abuses in the country, seeking asylum abroad,” she told reporters in Geneva, putting the total worldwide at 103,600.
“With no resolution to the internal crisis in sight,” the agency “expects these numbers to grow.”
Neighboring Costa Rica is hosting some 77,000 Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers, while just over 8,000 have fled to Panama and 9,000 to Europe. Mexico is sheltering some 3,600.
Critics accuse Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega — a former rebel hero who has been in power since 2007 — of running a repressive dictatorship whose crackdown on protests in 2018 left more than 300 people dead, according to rights groups.