Miami-Dade County

They’re fleeing Nicaragua with almost nothing. Miami is stepping up to help.

Protesters march on the street below during an anti-government protest in Managua, Nicaragua, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The current unrest began in April, when President Daniel Ortega imposed cuts to the social security system and small protests by senior citizens were violently broken up. From then more than 300 people have died and demonstrators have demanded that Ortega leave power.
Protesters march on the street below during an anti-government protest in Managua, Nicaragua, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The current unrest began in April, when President Daniel Ortega imposed cuts to the social security system and small protests by senior citizens were violently broken up. From then more than 300 people have died and demonstrators have demanded that Ortega leave power. AP

Nicaraguan organizations in South Florida are collecting clothing and blankets to send to thousands of Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica.

The nonprofit organization Miami Managua Lions Club will collect clothing, coats, shoes, quilts, towels, sheets, wipes, sanitary pads and diapers for adults and children at 125 SW 107th Ave. from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 23-26. Medicines, food and water will not be accepted.

“We are calling on the Nicaraguan community in South Florida to stand in solidarity with the exile community in Costa Rica,” said César Lacayo, coordinator of the humanitarian aid project Operation Costa Rica.

“They fled to save their lives and have stayed in Costa Rica, where the government helps and protects them. We have to contribute our grain of sand so that the governments of the world and Costa Rica see that the Nicaraguan community is standing by their own and helping,“ Lacayo said.

In early August, the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, spoke out about the humanitarian crisis that could be brewing along Nicaragua’s border with Costa Rica. There are already more than 23,000 Nicaraguans who have requested asylum in the neighboring country since the protests against Daniel Ortega’s government broke out in April.

Each week, hundreds of Nicaraguans cross the border to escape political persecution and the deterioration of the economy. Many are forced to travel in precarious conditions. Some arrive with bullet injuries.

Those who travel across the mountains to avoid paramilitary forces risk their lives as they are exposed to hunger, disease and inhospitable geography.

The Costa Rican government has asked the international community for its support to face what it considers could become the next humanitarian crisis in Central America.

The containers with donations will arrive in Costa Rica during the second or third week of September, Lacayo said. On the day that the aid arrives, a cultural event with live music will also be held and 1,000 plates of hot food will be distributed to the Nicaraguan refugees, he said.

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