There is a widespread misconception that the majority of migrants are bound for Europe. This is not the case. Around 90 percent of all refugees live in developing countries, primarily in African states. The majority are internally displaced within their own country, or have fled just across the border. They don't have the money to travel any further.
More and more people are leaving their homes in search of a better life for themselves and their families, or to escape unrest, oppression and persecution. The United Nations estimates that some 244 million people around the world no longer live in the country of their birth. This shows that the number of migrants has risen sharply from around 153 million people in 1990 — and the figure could soon be even higher. A survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 160 different countries indicates that around 23 million people are currently preparing to migrate.
Many people seek shelter in Ethiopia, for example. It's ranked fifth in the list of countries worldwide that take in the most refugees. They come primarily from neighboring Somalia, which has been in a state of civil war since the early 1990s. 7 million people there are dependent on humanitarian aid, with 800,000 at risk of famine. More than 1 million Somalis have fled to Ethiopia, and to another neighbor, Kenya, which is now home to the biggest refugee camp in the world. Another East African country, Uganda, has a generous policy with regard to refugees. This makes it very popular with people fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo or South Sudan, countries rocked by uprisings and civil war. Refugees arriving in Uganda are given a piece of land to cultivate.
It's not clear how many people actually cross the US-Mexico border every year. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are around 11 million migrants living in the US without a residency permit. About half of them are from Mexico. Many people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras use Mexico as a transit country. Until 2010 it was primarily young men migrating northwards, but Amnesty International reports that whole families are now on the move, escaping violence by criminal gangs in their home countries.
It's not only the Mediterranean that refugees are attempting to cross in rickety boats. This is also a problem in Southeast Asia. More and more people are trying to flee Myanmar and Bangladesh for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Most are Rohingya, a Muslim minority that is persecuted, tortured and repressed in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. Since mid-2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. In many instances they were stranded at sea for weeks, because the surrounding states, while prepared to provide the refugees with fuel, water and food, have refused to take them in.