RET began local operations
What We Do
Areas of Intervention
Disaster risk reduction and management
Education and capacity building
Post-primary education, including basic, tertiary, life and soft skills, and distance learning
Economic growth and development
Self-reliance and livelihoods, business development, and entrepreneurship
Infrastructure and equipment
Peace, stability, and transition
Including building community resilience
Costa Rica is a Latin American country with a stable and well-functioning democracy in a region where governance is often unpredictable. It is considered a transit and destination country for people who travel by land from the south to the north of America, mainly to the United States. This flow is composed of Venezuelans, Haitians, Cubans, and people from other South American countries, such as Ecuador and Colombia, as well as from Africa and Asia. The country has historically received refugees from Colombia and Central American countries such as El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.
RET has worked tirelessly in Costa Rica since 2010, with the majority of our program participants (60%) vulnerable women. We’ve worked with refugee seekers and refugees, providing psychological care, case management, community outreach and shelter services, providing basic services in education, legal counseling, psychosocial support, prevention, and response to sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV and GBV, respectively).
We have been a partner agency of the UNHCR since 2017 and have:
- Developed methodologies such as the Care Protocol for Women Survivors of SGBV, referral pathways and standard operating procedures for humanitarian assistance, and
- Supported the work in the offices of the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social (IMAS), the government agency tasked with assisting people in poverty and extreme poverty – including refugee and asylum seekers – with economic support, childcare, scholarships, among other services.
Since 2018, we have nurtured the “Purple Point” initiative which has focused on:
- The prevention and response to GBV;
- Providing psychological care services, counseling, training processes in the prevention of GBV to women and LGBTQI+ individuals, and
- The promotion of sexual and reproductive health.
At the same time, RET in Costa Rica has implemented an innovative psychosocial program to help male asylum seekers with emotional and psychological coping skills. Through self-management and therapeutic groups, we created a group space for personal growth, oriented to the promotion of positive masculinities, the support of emotional health, and the improvement of interpersonal relationships.
Over the last five years, our national office has developed outstanding community approaches with a focus on gender and intersectionality, aiming to strengthen participation and leadership, enhance the capacities of provincial territories, and increase community protection so that migrant, refugee, and host community members can create the social fabric that allows them to ensure their rights through their own decision-making processes.
More recently, we have been working to strengthen local governments’ capacity to prevent and provide services to prevent GBV by providing related support services. This initiative involved work with 33 local governments across the country to improve their capacity to prevent GBV and provide support to victims.
In 2022, we launched a project to work with state institutions to include methodologies for the prevention of GBV and strengthen the capacities of officials who provide services. Building capacity at the municipal and national levels better ensures that together we can develop a long-term, durable strategy to combat GBV in Costa Rica.
Between 2020 and 2022, we worked on a regional level with Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic to strengthen disaster risk management at the local levels by providing technical assistance and knowledge exchange opportunities.
Our work in Costa Rica would not be possible without strong relationships with other local actors, including:
- UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with whom RET is a partner agency, and who coordinates with the agencies active in the Country Protection System through referral pathways and appropriate coordination for case management;
- Our collaborative relationships with IOM and its projects for migrant assistance in the country;
- Government social institutions such as the National Institute for Women and its network of temporary shelters and Women’s Delegation, and with the Mixed Institute for Social Assistance, where RET currently has a presence;
- Civil society actors such as the Institute on LGBTQI+ Migration and Refuge (IRCA CASA ABIERTA), which are vital for the project development, as they generate political advocacy and training and offer comprehensive assistance aimed at LGBTQI+ populations; and
- The WEM Institute, which works with male populations on issues such as violence or gender equity, fatherhood and sexuality.