Indians traveling to Nicaragua

News excerpt

The recent case of a chartered flight with Indian passengers from the UAE flying to Nicaragua has raised questions about illegal immigration. 

  • With this, the focus is back on illegal immigration and the concept of 'donkey flights'.

More details on news:

  •  In recent months, there has been a notable increase in interest among Indians to travel to Nicaragua, a Central American nation not traditionally popular among Indian travelers.
  • This surge in curiosity has raised concerns, especially following a case involving an alleged 'human trafficking' bid on a chartered flight from the UAE to Nicaragua which was grounded after the local French administration received an anonymous tip-off about ‘human trafficking’.
  •  While some may genuinely be interested in tourism or business, sources suggest that Nicaragua is becoming a gateway for illegal immigration to the United States and Canada.
  • The recent case involved passengers from Punjab and Gujarat, and the process involved obtaining visas on arrival or travel authorization, posing challenges due to language barriers and unfamiliarity with Indian travelers.

Illegal migration

  • Post-independence, many families that migrated to more developed nations found better social, economic, and sometimes even political conditions than their Indian counterparts. This may have built the desire to migrate to the West.
  •   A large number of people from Punjab, especially the youth, travel abroad in the hope of a better life.
  •  As migration increases, illegal and irregular migration has also grown significantly. 
  • There is little authentic data on such irregular migrants in the public domain, although studies say the magnitude of the problem is “substantial” among migrants from Punjab.
  • According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, every year, more youth from Punjab attempt irregular migration.
  •  The cases of illegal migration often come to light when a prospective migrant falls prey to fraudsters and is cheated by unscrupulous agents, or on being apprehended in a foreign country.

What are 'donkey flights'?

  • Donkey or 'dunki' flights as they are known in Punjab are essentially illegal immigration techniques used to gain unauthorised entry into the Western nations US, UK and Canada in search of 'greener pastures'.
  • The illegal commuting process has gained takers in recent years among many Indian, Pakistani nationals and even some from other third-world countries.
  •  According to Migration Policy Institute, the term comes from the Punjabi idiom meaning to hop from place to place.
  • The process involves illegal border crossings, hiding in ships and containers and also poses the risk of being caught and being deported.


  • Nicaragua is a Central American nation.  Managua, the largest city in the nation and the residence of nearly one-sixth of the people, serves as the capital of the nation.
  •  It is the biggest republic in Central America. 
  • The country of Nicaragua is distinguished by its agrarian economy, autocratic political past, and uneven regional growth.
  • Almost all of the nation's population and economic activity is centered in the west.  
  • The Pacific Ocean borders Nicaragua on the west, the Caribbean Sea on the east, Costa Rica on the south, and Honduras on the north.

Way forward:

  • Address the root causes of illegal migration from Punjab by enhancing economic opportunities, raising awareness about legal channels, and cracking down on fraudulent agents.
  • Strengthening  diplomatic ties  with other countries to ensure transparent visa processes and cooperation in curbing illegal immigration, while fostering international collaboration on border control measures.

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