IOM Advises Central American States on Management of Cuban Migration

Migrant Assistance

Costa Rica - Today (12/1) a pilot group of 180 Cuban economic migrants stranded in Costa Rica since 14 November 2015, will leave shelters provided by the Government of Costa Rica and depart the country as regular migrants. They have each paid USD 555 for a commercial plane and bus tickets in a package trip to reach Mexico via El Salvador and Guatemala.

“The departure of the pilot group of Cubans should not distract from the urgent need to provide humanitarian assistance to another 7,802 Cubans who remain stranded in Costa Rica,” said IOM Costa Rica Chief of Mission Roeland de Wilde.

From 18 January, representatives of the governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico will begin evaluating whether to approve the pilot as the basis for a full-fledged commercial operation to facilitate the dignified, safe, orderly departure as regular migrants of all Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica who have transit visas.

The unprecedented and rapid increase of stranded Cuban economic migrants has prompted the Government of Costa Rica to declare a migration crisis with an urgent need for humanitarian assistance. It asked IOM for expert advice on ways for the Cubans to be able to depart Costa Rica safely and voluntarily as regular migrants.

IOM sought a solution that would protect migrants’ rights, and identified commercial transportation possibilities that would allow the Cuban migrants to pay for their own travel.

This self-paying option reduces incentives for irregular migration and undermines criminal human trafficking and smuggling networks by creating a legal and commercially competitive alternative.  None of the governments or international organizations concerned will be organizing or paying for transportation.

For further information, please contact Roeland de Wilde at IOM Costa Rica, Tel: +506 837 00697, Email: