United Nations, Apr 17: Doctors, journalists, students and farmers are among more than 60,000 Nicaraguans, who have fled the country in fear of their lives since anti-Government demonstrations began last April, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said.
The people, who are coming from different parts of Nicaragua and they are travelling to the Costa Rican border, trying to avoid contact with the police and paramilitary groups,” Ms Throssell explained. “Some are travelling in trucks, hidden amongst sacks.”
“Among those seeking asylum are students, former public officials, opposition figures, journalists, doctors, human rights defenders and farmers,” she said. “A significant number arrive in need of healthcare, psychological support, shelter and food assistance.”
Without a political solution to the crisis in Nicaragua, people are likely to continue to flee, UNHCR has warned. Funds are urgently needed to strengthen the agency’s humanitarian response to allow asylum-seekers in dire need of assistance to access aid, Ms Throssell said, instead of having to resort to informal jobs to pay for somewhere to live, and food prices which are beyond their reach.
With the anniversary of the protests looming later this week, the head of the UN rights office (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, said on Tuesday that the Nicaraguan Government needed to ensure its security forces give citizens to right to assemble peacefully, and express their views freely.
“I am concerned that the protests planned for later in the week may trigger another violent reaction,” Ms Bachelet said. “Violations over the past year include the criminalisation and harassment of -- and attacks on student leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and others critical of the Government.
The authorities have also resorted to media censorship, bans on demonstrations, and persistent use of excessive force and large-scale arbitrary arrests by the police," she added. "Inevitably these actions, coupled with the lack of accountability for unlawful excesses by members of the security forces, have stoked rather than reduced the tensions in the country.”
The UN human rights chief said she was also disturbed by reports of conditions faced by protesters who have been detained, noting that "severe conditions" in jails could amount to torture and ill-treatment. She cited recent protests at La Modelo, a men’s prison in Tipitapa, to the north-east of the capital Managua, where people were detained during the protests, who are being held alongside common criminals. The prisoners were reportedly violently repressed, through beatings, use of dogs and tear gas.UNI