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International groups ask for return of Nicaraguans stranded at border

July 29, 2020

Political and humanitarian organizations on Wednesday advocated for aiding hundreds of Nicaraguans stranded at the border with Costa Rica and helping them enter their country.

The Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH) called on international migration and human rights organizations to intervene in the “migration crisis” of more than 500 people who have been prevented from returning to their native country.

Returning to Nicaragua due to the current lack of employment opportunities in Costa Rica, Nicaraguans are prevented from entering their country unless they present a certificate stating that they do not COVID-19.

The government of President Daniel Ortega has refused to carry out the tests, and the cost of doing them in Costa Rica is too high for many of the migrants.

Human rights activists say the migrants are in “no man’s land.” They describe a situation in which migrants are blocked by Nicaraguan police, barely protected from the sun and rain in plastic awnings, share a single bathroom, and have insufficient food.

The president of the ANPDH, Álvaro Leiva, denounced in a press conference that the Ortega government has reinforced surveillance on the border “with military and paramilitary forces to create chaos, uncertainty and fear.”

He asked the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Commission on Human Rights to intervene.

The opposition bloc National Coalition, which groups political parties and civil society, warned in a statement that there are more Nicaraguans in Guatemala, Panama and the Caribbean islands facing the same issues as they try to return home.

Faced with the pressing situation on the Peñas Blancas border, the coalition contacted a Costa Rican laboratory in an attempt to arrange the necessary coronavirus tests.

Nicaraguan authorities report 3,672 infections and 116 COVID-19 deaths since March, though civil organizations report much higher figures

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