After an COVID-19 pandemic emergency was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020, several Central American countries implemented a series of measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and infection, which include the closing of land borders, and the amendment of border management policies as a public health measure.
Costa Rica, under the resolution issued by Executive Decree No. 42238-MGP-S on 17 March 2020, imposed countrywide entry restrictions for non-residents and tourist into the national territory, valid until 01 August 2020. Panama has decreed the closing of its borders that has severely affected Operation Controlled Flow since 16 March 2020; causing the extra-regional migrants sheltered at the MRSs to become stranded and without any possibility of continuing with their journey.
The border closing, once again provoked a migration crisis for more than 2,520 extra-regional migrants, that have been stranded between 90 -120 days at the MRSs in Panama, mainly in the Darién Province. This has generated a series of challenges related to the lack of resources for the proper promotion of health, food, and the right to dignified shelter that migrants should received under the current pandemic context.
This document brings together a contextualization of the emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic with the migrant population stranded due to mobility restrictions in Central America. It also analyzes the humanitarian response that has taken place during the months of April, May and June, and the result of these efforts in terms of humanitarian standards required in the context of the pandemic and the management of shelters.