January 22nd, 2016 (ICR News) Costa Rica is seeking some US $1 million in assistance from the international community and NGOs to assist the country in the continued care of thousands of US-bound Cuban migrants that remain trapped in 38 refugee shelters throughout country.
Last week, the first of several thousand Cuban migrants that had been stranded in Costa Rica crossed into the United States under a plan agreed to among Central American leaders. The deal allows the migrants to be flown from Costa Rica to El Salvador, before being taken to the U.S. border by bus.
The airlifts are set to resume on February 4th, but it is expected to take at least five months to complete the transport of at least 5,000 Cubans that remain in Costa Rica on their way to the United States.
In calling for international aid, Ivan Brenes, chief of Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) said that the country’s and his institution’s funds were “limited,” and asked for the assistance of governments, aid agencies and NGOs to assist with the financial burden of continued care of the migrants over the next five to six months.
The required US $1 million would be used for food, basic services, personal care, and maintenance of the 38 shelters that have been established for the Cubans.
The requested amount is based on estimates that it will take five to six months to airlift all of the migrants with two weekly flights to El Salvador beginning on February 4th.
Brenes reminded the international community that Costa Rica has spent more than that amount since the crisis began in mid-November, adding that the country does not “have the resources to shoulder the project alone,” adding that the situation could become “critical” without outside assistance.
“Remember that this is a matter of human rights, the protection of life,” Brenes said.
Brenes said that he has called a meeting next week of United Nations officials, as well as representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Red Cross, and Caritas International (an agency of the Catholic Church that oversees social issues) to seek assistance in addressing the issue.
Costa Rica is not alone in its concern over how to care Cuban migrants and immigrants in what many are describing as the newest “Cuban exodus.”
Officials in Miami, Florida earlier this month expressed their concern over the imminent arrival of the migrants, saying that local governments in the Miami area lack funds to provide assistance and welfare programs to the new wave of Cuban migrants.