R4R Situation Report: Central America and Mexico (January 2022) – Costa Rica

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The context

Panama

In 2022, R4V partners in Panama continue to provide assistance and support to refugees and migrants from Venezuela, especially those facing vulnerabilities and lack of access to basic needs and services. Many have reported to an R4V partner that income generated from informal economic activities is not sufficient to cover basic needs, especially given the increase in consumer goods and basic food basket costs. In addition, work permit renewal processes for Venezuelans admitted for processing and recognized refugees are experiencing delays, limiting opportunities for formal employment. In addition, Executive Decree No. 1316 of December 10, 20191 expired in December 2021. To date, the authorities have not announced the extension of the decree, which worries Venezuelans who have not been able to renew their passports in due to costs and procedural delays. The standard had allowed Venezuelan passports with an original expiry date no longer than three years to be used as a valid document for immigration and other administrative procedures.

It was noted that the main reasons why migrants and refugees from Venezuela seek psychosocial support from R4V partners in Panama are situations of violence within the household. In this sense, many women have shown symptoms related to depression, anxiety, stress and significant discomfort generated by living and/or having contact with their aggressor. Some problems were present before the pandemic due to the vulnerability of women, but many other manifestations of symptoms started or worsened during the pandemic, mainly due to restrictions and mobility restrictions imposed, as well as the impact related to COVID-19 on livelihoods.

By contrast, transit of mixed movements through the Darien Gap has declined overall, with 4,702 people crossing the Colombia-Panama border in January, more than half of whom are refugees and migrants from Venezuela. However, many of those who enter the controlled flow process cannot continue their transit to Chiriquí (border with Costa Rica) because they cannot afford the bus fare. Consequently, overcrowding situations could arise in the migrant reception center in San Vicente, which has limited capacity. R4V partners anticipate that this situation of entry of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in transit through the Darién will continue and increase in the coming months.

Costa Rica

Costa Rican media reported a group of seven Venezuelans sleeping in an open park. They said they passed through Darien and could not find help in Costa Rica. They counted on the help of the church. R4V partners are studying the possibility of a revision to extend the complementary protection granted by the Migration Authority to Venezuelans whose asylum application was refused between January 1, 2010 and December 15, 2021 and which will expire on February 28 2022. This has caused an increase in requests for information by Venezuelans seeking alternatives.

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