Of total fatalities, 4,476 people, half occurred in the Mediterranean this year, the International Organization for Migration says in a new report.

A caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America, en route to the United States, makes its way to San Pedro Tapanatepec from Arriaga, Mexico October 27, 2018.
A caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America, en route to the United States, makes its way to San Pedro Tapanatepec from Arriaga, Mexico October 27, 2018. (Reuters Archive)

A total of 4,476 people lost their lives on migratory routes across the world in 2018, a UN agency said on Tuesday.

In a report published on International Migrants Day, International Organization for Migration (IOM) said hundreds of thousands of people continue to migrate from their homelands to flee either conflicts, bad economic conditions or political pressures.

According to IOM data, 2,217 deaths, around half of the total fatalities occurred in the Mediterranean this year.

In 2018, at least 135,000 people migrated to Europe, the report said.

The migrants who arrived in Europe were mostly from Syria, Tunisia, Eritrea, Pakistan, Iraq, Congo, Afghanistan, Morocco and Mali.

Also, hundreds of thousands of people tried to migrate to the US and Canada from South and Central American countries due to hunger, violence and political pressure.

According to data from US Customs and Border Protection, around 400,000 people were held in 2018 for entering the country via illegal ways.

Don't blame migrants for everything – Pope

Meanwhile, Pope Francis condemned nationalist leaders who blame migrants for their countries' problems and themselves fostered mistrust in society by pursuing dishonest gain and xenophobic and racist policies.

The 82-year-old pope, who has made defence of migrants a plank of his papacy, made the comments on Tuesday in his message for the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace on January 1. 

It is sent to heads of state and government and international organisations.

It comes at a time when immigration is one of the most contentious issues in countries such as the United States, Italy, Germany and Hungary. 

Francis has sparred with US President Donald Trump and Italian right-wing league leader Matteo Salvini over the rights of migrants.

"Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable," said the pope, who did not mention any countries or leaders.

He said today's times were "marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one's personal security."

Source: AA