THE UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, Filippo Grandi, has thanked President Carlos Alvarado for Costa Rica’s commitment to protect and promote the inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers.

Through an agreement with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Costa Rica has extended health insurance to 10,000 of those who are most vulnerable.

“Costa Rica’s generosity in assisting people in need of international protection is an example to countries the world over”, said Grandi.

President Alvarado also announced his decision to extend Costa Rica’s commitments to address the challenges of forced displacement, as part of its participation in the MIRPS, a regional framework for protection and solutions for those forced to flee. Grandi celebrated the decision as another demonstration of Costa Rica’s leadership in the region.

Costa Rica hosts more than 85,000 Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers who have fled their country since 2018. Grandi lauded the government’s efforts to strengthen its asylum system to be able to continue receiving asylum claims, including during the pandemic, and to provide alternative protection solutions for persons who require such arrangements. “These extraordinary times call upon the international community to assist countries that welcome, host and support people who are fleeing persecution”, Grandi said.

During his three-day visit, Grandi travelled to the northern city of Upala, to hear directly from Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers about their needs and struggles to integrate. He met with mayors from the northern region to learn about the host communities’ integration efforts and called for additional development plans. Later, he visited a local market supported by UNHCR, where nationals and asylum seekers sell their goods to the community in an example of economic reactivation and peaceful coexistence.

Back in San Jose, Grandi witnessed the signing of the new agreement between the Costa Rican Social Security agency and UNHCR for USD $2.3 million, to provide health insurance to 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers with acute or chronic health care needs, particularly those in the most vulnerable conditions.

Grandi’s visit to Costa Rica concluded a week-long visit to Latin America which also included Colombia where President Ivan Duque announced that temporary protection status would be granted to Venezuelans in the country. “Countries like Colombia and Costa Rica are going the extra mile to welcome people forced to flee. But they cannot do it alone. Efforts by the international community are essential to support them”, Grandi said.

On departing from Costa Rica, the High Commissioner headed to Spain, which leads the Support Platform for the MIRPS regional framework that aims to garner the backing of international actors for efforts in Central America and Mexico to address the challenges of forced displacement.

* Source: UNHCR, The Refugee Agency