U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Costa Rica
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||25 May 2004|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Costa Rica , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b459374.html [accessed 29 December 2014]|
Costa Rica continued to receive thousands of Colombians. By year-end 2003, Costa Rica hosted approximately 13,600 refugees and asylum seekers, including 8,300 Colombians, 2,600 Nicaraguans, 1,200 Cubans, and 790 Salvadorans. The bulk of the Colombian refugees arrived during the 2001-02 period, with 1,700 arriving last year, comprising the majority of the 1,900 newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers during 2003.
Nearly 200 Colombians arrived per month on average. Costa Rica recorded a flow of about 300 Colombians a month before it instituted a visa requirement in 2002. Costa Rica is a party to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) noted the prompt and effective refugee determination process, which accords with Convention standards, and that Costa Rica generally grants refugees the same rights as citizens, including the right to work and access to social services, education, and health care. The approval rate for refugees is high, with about 70% of Colombian applications approved, about 130 per month. At year-end there were only 77 refugee applications pending a decision.
UNHCR increased its aid to refugees, including cash, micro-credit programs, and public awareness of the refugees' right to work. Many refugees had difficulty getting jobs because employers were uncertain of their right to work. Refugees are allowed to apply for permanent residence after two years.
Most Colombians denied asylum in 2003 remained in Costa Rica without documentation. At least an estimated 20,000 Colombians have gone to Costa Rica to escape the violence in Colombia, but have had their cases rejected or simply not sought asylum and live in refugee-like circumstances.