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

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Situation

• In March, R4V partners reported an increase in irregular entries of Venezuelan refugees and migrants at the southern border of Costa Rica, and an increase in crossings to Nicaragua, where refugees and migrants must pay a “duty of ‘entry’ of 150 USD for people who enter Nicaragua illegally. Many Venezuelans cannot afford these fees. Meanwhile, the effects of new visa requirements introduced on February 21 for Venezuelans have been notable, and migration authorities have issued new instructions regarding the visa application process, which constitute a barrier to entry. regularity of Venezuelans in the country. Additionally, the Ministry of Housing and Settlement (MIVAH) has indicated that refugees are eligible to access its social programs and services. This decision follows the review of refugee legal terminology by migration authorities, which confirmed that refugees are considered permanent residents and therefore entitled to the same benefits. This results from the review of commitments by the government of Costa Rica (MINARE) in 2021, and is expected to positively impact the approximately 1,700 recognized Venezuelan refugees in Costa Rica and potentially benefit the more than 5,000 Venezuelan asylum seekers in waiting for resolution. Furthermore, newly arrived Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Costa Rica have told R4V partners that they urgently need food, clothing and access to health services that require medical insurance. The partners also reported an increase in emergency accommodation requests for Venezuelans who typically need a few nights of accommodation before continuing their journey north. Separately, Costa Rica and the United States announced a new collaboration on migration and protection with a focus on strengthening immigration and border policing in the Central American country, during of a visit by the US Secretary of Homeland Security.

• The arrival of Venezuelans by land in southern Mexico continued to increase significantly in April compared to previous months, with Venezuelans becoming the top nationality seeking asylum in Chiapas at the end of April. In addition, the National Institute for Migration (INM) reported intercepting a total of 5,688 foreigners traveling irregularly (including 395 Venezuelan nationals) in various operations between March 21 and April 14. Many were found in shelters, trailers, cattle trailers or hidden in overcrowded bus compartments or truck cabins with no ventilation, water or food.
Separately, the media highlighted ongoing protests by refugees and migrants, including Venezuelan nationals, at the pedestrian crossing into Mexico from the Guatemalan border, demanding that the INM grant them humanitarian visas to transit through Mexico. On March 14, mainly Central American, Cuban and Venezuelan refugees and migrants arrived at the international bridge between Mexico and Guatemala to lobby authorities to grant them permits.

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