Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor's Name

Douglas Kincaid

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Damian Fernandez

Third Advisor's Name

Susan Waltz


Refugees, Central America, Costa Rica

Date of Defense



The conflicts of the past decade in Central America have produced substantial refugee movements into neighboring nations. Costa Rica has had to cope with an influx of refugees and migrants as large as 10 percent of its population. This work presents a case study of the situation in Costa Rica, focusing on the issue of refugee integration into the host society. It draws on qualitative field research conducted in that country during 1986.

The study discusses the evolution of the Costa Rican state's response to the refugee crisis and analyzes the characteristics and impact of policies undertaken by various state bureaucracies. It also describes the assistance efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and private voluntary organizations, along with their interaction with the Costa Rican state. The study concludes that the government's need to maintain firm control of refugee programs has overshadowed its commitment to refugee integration. In so doing, the humanitarian purpose of refugee assistance has been compromised.





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