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More than 60,000 people flee Nicaragua crisis – U.N.

GENEVA, Switzerland – More than 60,000 people have fled the crisis in Nicaragua over the past year, the UN said Tuesday, April 16, with neighboring Costa Rica bearing the brunt of the refugee flow.

The central American country has been gripped by a year of political unrest since months of street protests erupted last April against President Daniel Ortega's government, leaving more than 325 people dead.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said that an estimated 62,000 people had fled to neighboring countries – 55,000 of them to Costa Rica.

People "have resorted to irregular crossings to avoid detection, often walking for hours through difficult terrain, exposed to heat, humidity and the risk of malaria," UNHCR said in a statement.

Those seeking asylum in Costa Rica include "students, former public officials, opposition figures, journalists, doctors, human rights defenders and farmers," the agency added.

Government talks with the opposition aimed at easing the crisis broke up last week without agreement on political reform in the crisis-torn country.

Ortega's leftist government has said it remains committed to breaking the impasse through dialogue.

The United States and European Union have threatened Ortega with sanctions, while the opposition has demanded the release of all those detained during protests. – Rappler.com