Costa Rica signed and ratified the 1951 refugee convention and its protocol in 1978. PoCs have the right to work. There are 54,883 (2019) PoCs in the country with 77% of PoCs originating from Nicaragua followed by Venezuelans at 13%. Despite legal advances in the country, sustainable local integration remains a major challenge for the refugee population. A general lack of understanding regarding the rights of refugees constraints PoCs access to documentation which has a negative impact on PoC employment, health care and education. 80% of refugees in Costa Rica are working in the informal sector which is comprised of 83% of the businesses participating in the UNHCR’s survey. According to UNHCR assessments, only 7% of PoCs had access to technical training and many PoCs (50%) consider discrimination to be the main obstacle preventing their economic integration into the country. Currently, 21.7% of PoCs work as technicians, 15.9% work in the cleaning and food industry, 14.5% as merchants and 10.1% as artisans.
Historically Costa Rica has been a country of asylum. To date, the country hosts the second largest recognized refugee population in Latin America. One of the strongest industries in the country is the food industry, which has innovated the market with an enormous amount of products. The food industry comprises 6.5% of Costa Rica’s GDP and 40% of manufacturing production. Additionally, the industry has generated over 1,500 million USD in exports and provides over 1,350 individuals with formal employment. Numerous opportunities can be identified in terms of expanding the food sector based on a few variables: diversity of culinary concepts, access to technology as well as a national interest to expand the industry as part of Costa Rica’s National Health and Sustainable Gastronomy initiative. Less than 5% of Costa Ricans suffer from hunger with the degree of extreme poverty decreasing from 10.1% to 7.2%. Additionally, Costa Rica has a GDP grown of 4.7% per annum, however the country has seen an increase in inequality from .438 to .512 and an 11.95% unemployment rate (National Institute for Statistic and Census, 2018 and FAO).
4,500 beneficiaries from Refugee and host communities