During 2017, a total of 6,337 new refugee applications were received in Costa Rica, 1,867 more than the previous year. Of the new applications, 50% were submitted Venezuelan people , followed by requests from people from the North of Central America (30%), Colombia (12.3%), and other nationalities (7.7%).
According to the “Global Trends” report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Venezuelans is the result of the complex socioeconomic and political situation in their country, which has caused more than 1.5 million Venezuelans to move to neighboring countries and beyond. Their main destinations are Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and the United States. According to figures provided by the host governments, more than 166,000 Venezuelans submitted asylum applications since the beginning of 2015, of which three quarters were in 2017.
However, the majority lives in an irregular situation. Several countries in the Latin American region have established alternative protection measures such as temporary residence permit, labor migration visa, humanitarian visa, and regional visa agreements to allow people to stay in the country and have access to their rights.
There are many factors that make us emigrate, because Venezuela not only has a social crisis, but a humanitarian one. There is a lack of food and medicine. With a minimum wage you can only buy an egg carton, and many people earn only that. The majority of Venezuelans who remain there live on the remittances sent by those of us who are abroad,”
explained Fernando Hermida, one of the Venezuelans who have requested refuge in the country.
He belongs to the Venezuela group in Costa Rica, an organization that helps their countrymen with information on how to regularize their status here and enroll in Costa Rican Taxation and Social Security.
In his case, he considers himself politically persecuted, because he belonged to the military and opposed the government.
With $ 10 dollars that I send, my family eats for a month. Therefore, the one who leaves thinks about never returning,”
One of the risks run by those who return is that their passport is canceled and they cannot leave Venezuela again. In those cases, they usually travel to Peru, Ecuador, or Colombia with their identity card. He added that many of those who arrive to Costa Rica or Panama come without income or savings.
Costa Rica developed a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework according to the guidelines of the Declaration of New York (2016) known as Minare. The document brings together and unites national refugee policies, identifying gaps and proposing solutions for a comprehensive and more effective response.
These efforts have recently been recognized by the High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi as “a model of protection and integration for urban refugees in middle-income countries according to international law” and constitutes Costa Rica’s contribution to the Comprehensive Regional Refugee Framework (MIRPS) and the Global Compact for Refugees.
There are still reasons for hope. Fourteen countries are already implementing a new response plan for refugee crises. Of these countries, six are Latin American: Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Panama. In a few months, the new Global Compact on Refugees will be ready for adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations,”
The total number of refugees in Costa Rica as of December 31st, 2017 was 4,493; of which (52.4%) are Colombian, followed by people from the north of Central America (18.4%), 10% from Nicaragua, 8.4% from Cuba, 7.6% from Venezuela, and 3.2 % with other nationalities.
Raquel Vargas, Director of Migration and Immigration, recalled that the institution has always opened and will always open its doors to those people who are persecuted or who are in danger in their country of origin. It also invites them to approach and formalize the refugee application process in order to avoid cases of irregular migration in the country.
Wars, violence and persecution have led to the forced displacement of people in the world, reaching a new historical record in 2017, for the fifth consecutive year, as a consequence, among others, of the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the war in South Sudan and the flight to Bangladesh of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people from Burma. Developing countries are the most welcoming in the world.
The annual statistical report Global Trends raised to 68.5 million people forcibly displaced at the end of 2017. Of these, 16.2 million were forced to move inside and outside their country’s borders during 2017, and either for the first time or repeatedly, which shows the magnitude of the population that is moving, equivalent to 44,500 people every day, or one person every two seconds.
The number of refugees who have fled their countries to escape conflicts and persecution amounts to 25.4 million. This figure represents an increase of 2.9 million for 2016 and the largest increase ever recorded by UNHCR in a single year. Asylum-seekers who were awaiting a decision on their applications as of December 31st2017 increased by some 300,000 to reach 3.1 million. The number of people displaced within their own countries was 40 million, slightly less than the 40.3 million in 2016.
In 2017, the number of refugees around the world already exceeded the population of Australia, while the number of forced displacements almost equaled the population of Thailand. Around the world, one in every 110 people is forcibly displaced.
The American continent is also experiencing its refugee crisis. Some the main challenges of the region are the movements of people in northern Central America and Mexico where there is a drastic increase in asylum seekers and refugees, mainly due to the violence of organized crime in their countries of origin.
More than 294,000 asylum seekers and refugees from northern Central America were registered globally at the end of 2017, an increase of 58 percent compared to the previous year. This is sixteen times more people than at the end of 2011. Between 2011 and 2017, 350.00 people from the north of Central America requested refuge worldwide. The vast majority of those fleeing from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras , seek protection under the status of refuge by moving to Belize, Mexico, the United States to the north, or to Costa Rica and Panama to the south.