Libya is new hub for illegal immigrants headed to the U.S.

Libya is new hub for illegal immigrants headed to the U.S.
Photo: Benina International Airport in Benghazi / Source: Creative Common/Kayhan Ertugrul 

On May 18th, a flight from Benghazi reportedly took off and landed 14 hours later in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. It was carrying 367 passengers from India. Five days later, the same flight departed with 298 Indians on board, according to Le Monde. All passengers planned to continue their journey to the U.S.

Months earlier, two flights with the same destination took off from Tripoli. While the nationalities of the passengers haven’t been disclosed and there has been no official confirmation of these flights, circumstances suggest that Libyan airports have become transit hubs for smuggling networks. 

A migration expert from The Inter-American Dialogue, cited in Le Monde, reported that 1,145 charter flights have landed in Managua since May 2023. While the majority of these flights have come from Latin America, there have also been flights from Morocco and more recently, Benghazi.

Nicaragua has become a popular stop for migrants aiming to enter the United States illegally, partly due to its relatively lax and affordable visa policy. Arriving in this Central American country allows migrants to avoid the dangerous Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. From Nicaragua, they continue through Central America and Mexico, with the U.S. as their final destination.

Migrants have informed Reuters that they learned about this new route through social networks and human traffickers.

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