Costa Rica + 5 more

R4V Situation Report: Central America & Mexico (March and April 2022)

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Situation

• In March, R4V partners reported increased irregular entries of Venezuelan refugees and migrants on the southern border of Costa Rica, and increased crossings into Nicaragua, where refugees and migrants are charged an ‘entry fee’ of USD 150 for persons who enter Nicaragua irregularly. Many Venezuelans cannot afford to pay this fee. Meanwhile, the effects of the new visa requirements introduced on 21 February for Venezuelans were notable, and the migration authorities released further instructions regarding the visa request process, which pose an obstacle for Venezuelans’ regular entry to the country. Additionally, the Ministry of Housing and Settlement (MIVAH) indicated that refugees are eligible to access its social programs and services. This decision follows the revision of refugee legal terminology by migration authorities, who confirmed that refugees are considered permanent residents and are therefore entitled to the same benefits. This resulted from the revision of the Goverment of Costa Rica’s (MINARE) commitments in 2021, and it is expected to positively impact the approximately 1,700 recognized Venezuelan refugees in Costa Rica and potentially benefit the over 5,000 Venezuelan asylum-seekers awaiting resolution. Separately, Venezuelan refugees and migrants newly arriving to Costa Rica indicated to R4V partners that they urgently require food, clothing, and access to health services that require medical insurance. Partners also reported increased demands for emergency shelter for Venezuelans who typically require a few nights lodging before they continue their trip up 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 a visit by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

• Venezuelans’ arrival by land into the south of Mexico continued to increase notably in April compared with previous months, with Venezuelans becoming the number one nationality requesting asylum in Chiapas by the end of April. Additionally, the National Migration Institute (INM) reported intercepting a total of 5,688 foreigners traveling irregularly (including 395 Venezuelan nationals) through various operations between 21 March and 14 April. Many were found in safe houses, trailers, cattle trailers or hidden in overcrowded bus compartments or truck cabins, without ventilation, water and food.
Separately, media reports highlighted ongoing protests by refugees and migrants, including Venezuelan nationals, at the pedestrian crossing into Mexico from the Guatemalan border, to demand that the INM grant them humanitarian visas to be able to transit through Mexico. On 14 March, mainly Central American, Cuban and Venezuelan refugees and migrants arrived at the international bridge between Mexico and Guatemala to pressure the authorities to grant them permits.