By Alix Hardy
The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) on Tuesday called for international support for Costa Rica and other nations that are trying to absorb the increasing flow of Nicaraguans fleeing repression at home.
“The UNHCR is calling for international solidarity and more support for Costa Rica and other countries welcoming the thousands of Nicaraguans that are fleeing political violence and serious rights violations in their country,” it said in a press briefing.
It said requests for asylum from Nicaraguans in Costa Rica had increased “exponentially” in the last few months.
“Currently, 200 requests are submitted a day.”
According to data from the UNHCR and Costa Rican authorities, 8,000 requests have been received since April and 15,000 more are pending as the administration is overstretched.
The UNHCR asked that migration authorities be given support to handle at least 500 requests a day.
Some 100,000 to 150,000 Nicaraguan families are already based in Costa Rica, according to the UNHCR.
Thousands of Nicaraguans are fleeing political violence and rights violations due to violent repression of anti-government protests for more than three months.
At least 292 people have been killed during the protests since they began on April 18, according to the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH).
Other non-governmental organizations have been reporting a much higher toll of more than 448 dead. According to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), 595 people have also disappeared.
Costa Rica, Nicaragua’s southern neighbor, has been getting the most asylum requests. But Panama, Mexico and the United States have also registered a higher volume than usual of Nicaraguan applications, which peaked in June, although they only numbered in the hundreds, according to the UNHCR.