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  • Migrants disembark from a dinghy at Del Canuelo beach after they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar sailing from the coast of Morocco, in Tarifa, southern Spain.

    Migrants disembark from a dinghy at Del Canuelo beach after they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar sailing from the coast of Morocco, in Tarifa, southern Spain. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 December 2019
Opinion

According to the International Migrant Stock 2019, Europe hosts the largest number of international migrants (82 million).

The United Nations informed Wednesday that in 2019 there were an estimated 272 million migrants across the world continuing an upward trend, according to new estimates released on the commemoration of the 19th International Migrant Day. 

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"[Migrants]  cross continents or oceans, taking giant steps - and giant risks - to join new societies with different languages, religious practices, foods, and cultural norms. They risk a great deal to succeed among us," International Organization for Migration’s Director General Antonio Vitorino said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to the International Migrant Stock 2019, a dataset released by the Population Division of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in 2019, regionally, Europe hosts the largest number of international migrants (82 million), followed by Northern America (59 million) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (49 million).

“These data are critical for understanding the important role of migrants and migration in the development of both countries of origin and destination,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for DESA Liu Zhenmin. 

The figures show that one-third of all international migrants originate from only ten countries, with India leading (18 million), followed by Mexico (12 million), China (11 million), Russia (10 million) and Syria (eight million). Currently, international migrants comprise 3.5 percent of the global population, compared to 2.8 percent in the year 2000.

At the same time,  about half of all international migrants reside in just 10 countries, with the United States hosting the largest number of international migrants (51 million), equal to about 19 percent of the world’s total. 

Germany and Saudi Arabia host the second and third largest numbers of migrants (13 million each), followed by Russia (12 million), the United Kingdom (10 million), the United Arab Emirates (nine million), France, Canada and Australia (around eight million each) and Italy (six million).

"Many migrants have crossed a nearby border for opportunities in countries not very different from their own," Vitorino added.

Also forced displacements across international borders continue to rise. 

Between 2010 and 2017, the global number of refugees and asylum seekers increased by about 13 million. Northern Africa and Western Asia hosted around 46 percent of the global number of refugees and asylum seekers, followed by sub-Saharan Africa (21 percent).

These millions of people represent a vulnerable group as they often times are escaping from their home countries but face human rights violations during their transit and destination mainly to Europe or North America; while thousands don’t make it as they die during their crossings. 

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