UNHCR’s operation in Costa Rica centers around the displacement caused by situations in the North of Central America, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In 2020, Costa Rica hosted 121,983 people of concern, including 9,613 refugees and 89,770 asylum- seekers.
Since 2017, the country has experienced a significant increase in the number of asylum-seekers, mainly from Nicaragua and Venezuela.
In 2018, UNHCR expanded its operations by opening a Field Office in Upala, close to the Nicaragua border. As part of our work, UNHCR assists the Government of Costa Rica in their response to the influx of Nicaraguan asylum-seekers. The Field Office focuses on safeguarding the basic rights of refugees and asylum-seekers through protection assistance, border monitoring, provision of basic needs to the most vulnerable and activities that promote peaceful coexistence and local integration.
UNHCR also assists in strengthening the government’s Refugee Status Determination (RSD) capacity through technical cooperation and dedicated staff for the Refugee Unit. We further support the government’s initiatives for child protection and sexual and gender-based violence prevention and response.
In 2020, UNHCR established a Field Unit in San Jose to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiatives includea Cash-Based Intervention (CBI) programme and a joint agreement between UNHCR and the Costa Rica Social Security (CCSS) entity to provide medical insurance to people of concern living with a medical condition or in extreme vulnerability.
UNHCR Costa Rica also participates in regional multilateral platforms such as MIRPS through Costa Rica´s National Chapter of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Plan (locally known as MINARE) and the platform R4V, a joint platform with IOM to respond to the situation of Venezuelans living in Costa Rica.
For information about our work in Costa Rica:
Are you a refugee or asylum-seeker in Costa Rica? Find information about your rights and available services on our HELP site.
For legislation, case law and UNHCR policy relating to claims for international protection, visit Refworld.