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Nicaraguans stranded on the border with Costa Rica will receive free COVID tests

July 30, 2020

Civil organizations and private companies in Costa Rica will arrange free coronavirus testing for the hundreds of Nicaraguans stranded on the border between the two countries, an official source reported Thursday.

The Nicaraguans have been stuck at the border for nearly two weeks due to health measures imposed by the government of Daniel Ortega.

Starting Friday, several organizations — including the Arias Foundation — will take “about 300 COVID-19 tests to migrants who remain at the border” with Nicaragua, announced the Director of Migration of Costa Rica, Raquel Vargas, in a statement.

Contributions from civil organizations and private companies will provide the tests and the necessary health personnel. The Costa Rican Immigration Administration will coordinate the process.

The cost of the tests was not disclosed.

The Managua government asks citizens arriving from abroad to present a negative coronavirus test, but Nicaraguans trying to return home say they cannot afford the tests.

A team from Hospital Clinica Biblica in Costa Rica “will move on Friday” to the border post and will set up a collection area for samples, Vargas said.

The results will be ready 48 hours after the test. If negative, the result would allow Nicaraguans who remain stuck in the Peñas Blancas immigration post to enter their country from Costa Rica.

“We thank the Center for Labor Rights and the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, for the search for resources by international cooperation,” Vargas said.

Vargas visited the border post Thursday, together with the deputy director of the Migration police, Alonso Soto, to survey the situation and make a census of the Nicaraguan migrants who have remained there since July 18.

“Thursday, around 200 people were counted at the border,” Vargas said. This figure was lower than earlier in the week “because the Nicaraguan authorities have received an important group of vulnerable people, women and children in recent days.”

The migrants are in “no man’s land,” blocked by Nicaraguan police and only protected from the elements by temporary plastic shelters, the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH) denounced Wednesday.

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