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Nearly 5,000 immigrants died in 2014 searching for a better life

Geneva, Dec 16 (EFE).- Nearly 5,000 migrants lost their lives this year in hope of finding a better deal for themselves and their families in another country, making 2014 the deadliest year ever for migrants, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The report, which was made public two days ahead of International Migrants Day, says 4,868 people died on the journey to destinations where they believed a better future awaited them and their families, a figure that doubles the 2,378 deaths registered in 2013.

The greatest number of fatalities occurred in the Mediterranean, where 3,224 people drowned in vessels that were unsuitable for navigation.

“All states have the international obligation to save the lives of those seeking help. Rescue operations should continue in the international waters of the Mediterranean. The current operation, Triton, while laudable, covers too small an area,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said in a statement.

The IOM says it fears the number of deaths at sea could rise if the European Union fails to put in place a comprehensive and well-equipped rescue operatiion in the Mediterranean to replace Italy’s now suspended Mare Nostrum.

Over 540 migrants also died in the Bay of Bengal and at least 307 perished while trying to cross the land border between Mexico and the United States, according to the report.

As many as 265 people died in the Horn of Africa, 251 in East Africa, 74 in Southeast Asia, 66 in the Caribbean, 51 in other parts of Europe away from the Mediterranean coast and 34 in other regions, including 16 in Central America.

The IOM noted that these figures refer exclusively to cases that have been verified and officially registered, stressing that there are many more deaths that have not been recorded, so the real figure is assumed to be higher.

Overall, the largest prcentage of migrants — 27 percent — who never reach their destination come from sub-Saharan Africa. The Middle East and North Africa account for 19 percent and the Horn of Africa represents 13 percent of the total.

For a great many of those who die, particular from Africa and the Middle East, their place of origin is never known so the above percentages should actually be higher, according to the report.

Around 232 million people are international migrants, while there are 740 million internal migrants.

With 33.3 million people internally displaced and 16.7 million refugees, the number of people displaced by violence and conflict today in the world is at the highest since World War ll.

Regarding illegal immigration, the latest figures suggest that there are at least 50 million irregular migrants worldwide, representing one-fifth of all international migrants. Many pay money to get help in illegal crossings.

An estimated 3 million people enter the U.S. illegally every year.

The European Union, E.U., detected 107,000 illegal border crossings in 2013 compared to 75,000 in 2012, an increase of 48 percent. Syrians, Eritreans and Afghans were the nationalities most frequently detected in the E.U., with Syrians accounting for a quarter of the total.

In 2013, 345,000 people were detected residing illegally in the E.U.

About 50 percent of all the world’s immigrants live in 10 countries: United States (45.8 million), Russia (11 million), Germany (9.8 million), Saudi Arabia (9.1 million), U.A.E. (7.8 million), Britain (7.8 million), France (7.5 million), Canada (7.3 million), Australia (6.5 million) and Spain (6.5 million).