Protests against the reform of the social security system that began in April 2018 were instantly met by violent repression from Nicaraguan authorities, prompting a period of large-scale civil unrest characterised by protests, demonstrations, and strikes. Reports of violence, arbitrary detentions, harassment tactics, intimidation campaigns, and incidents of torture against opposition protesters and human rights defenders have increased and are likely to continue, with no political resolution in sight. ? The crisis has led some 52,000 to flee to Costa Rica. ?

The political crisis has led to economic turmoil, with Nicaragua formally falling into recession on 1 October 2018 for the first time since the global financial crisis of 2009. Unemployment has spiked, with an estimated 417,000 people losing their jobs between April and November 2018. ?

According to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), 561 people were killed and 4,578 injured in relation to the crisis since April 2018, an increase from the 325 killed and 2,000 injured previously reported between April and August 2018. ?

Latest Developments

17/04: On 16 April, Ortega’s government released 636 prisoners, including between 18 and 36 people deemed political prisoners. This comes days before the first anniversary of the start of the crisis sparked by planned social security reforms. According to opposition groups hundreds of people detained during protests since April 2018 remain in prison. A number of protests and public events have been planned by civil society and opposition groups for 17-19 April despite having been prohibited by the government. There is risk of protests turning violent increasing protection concerns.? 

Key figures

  • 561 people killed in anti-government protests  [?]
  • 4,578 people injured in anti-government protests  [?]
  • 52,000 Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica  [?]
  • 40,300 Nicaraguans have requested international protection  [?]
  • 143,000 people have fallen into poverty  [?]
  • 120,000 people at risk of falling into poverty  [?]

Key priorities

Protection: Large-scale civic unrest has persisted since the beginning of the crisis, and the government’s repressive strategies have intensified, raising serious protection concerns. As of January 2019, there were 767 people in prison for protesting against the government. ?

Food security and livelihoods: Located in Central America’s ‘Dry Corridor’, Nicaragua is experiencing high levels of food insecurity due to the lack of rainfall from June-August 2018 that  caused significant damage to the 2018 primera season (harvested July to mid-August), with an average of 20% in agricultural losses recorded across the region. Increasing food prices resulting from economic recession also limit food access. ?

Information Gaps and needs

  • Current data on economic activity is missing because the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BNC) has not provided updates since June 2018, and the Nicaraguan government is still downplaying the economic crisis and contesting figures.