QUESADA, Costa Rica – The Diocese of Quesada in Costa Rica has set up two reception centers to serve the Nicaraguan refugees fleeing the violence that has plagued their country for nearly four months.
The centers are offering food, clothing, and orientation materials for those passing through the area. They have been set up at Saint Raphael the Archangel parish in Pavón de Los Chiles and Saint Anthony of Padua parish in Pital de San Carlos.
Bishop José Manuel Garita Herrera of Quesada announced the opening of the reception centers in a statement addressed to laity and priests.
The centers will operate Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Efforts will be coordinated by the diocesan social services ministry, as well as priests and parish groups.
To ensure that the centers have an adequate supply of material resources, a collection for food and clothing will be made in all the parishes August 11 and 12. The bishop asked the faithful and people of good will to collaborate with this initiative.
Since mid-April, there have been massive demonstrations in Nicaragua against President Daniel Ortega, who has been in power since 2007 and was reelected in 2016 in elections disputed by the opposition. In January 2014, he oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits.
The demonstrations have been put down by police and paramilitaries, with more than 400 deaths.
The Catholic Church has participated as a mediator and witness to national peace talks convened by Ortega. However, Church officials have also faced attacks from groups with ties to the government.
On July 31, the UN Refugee Agency called for “international solidarity and support for Costa Rica and other countries hosting Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers, as thousands of Nicaraguans flee mounting political tensions, violence and serious human rights violations in their country.”
Pointing to Church teaching on solidarity with the weak and vulnerable in society, Garita Herrera said the decision was made to open the reception centers “to respond, based on our current abilities, to the humanitarian emergency of the massive arrival of Nicaraguans in our communities.”
The bishop said that “analyzing the reality and the services provided by the Social Services Ministry-Caritas, we are aware that one of the principal needs is to provide aid in places where the refugees are coming in.”
This article was originally published by ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.