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Photograph: EPA/CSABA HUNGARY OUT

The number of international migrants reached 244 million in 2015, an increase of 41 per cent compared to 2000, the United Nations said in a report published Tuesday.

The report, which was the latest biennial revision of migration trends, found that the number of people who had moved to another country - voluntarily for economic reasons or because of conflicts - had risen by 71 million since 2000.

The figure includes 20 million refugees worldwide who had to flee due to conflict, with most of them coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

About one-third, or 76 million, of the world's international migrants live in Europe, including 12 million in Germany and 9 million in Britain.

The US has the largest population of migrants as a country with 47 million people. Russia has 12 million and Saudi Arabia has 10 million foreign-born residents.

UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said countries need to develop migration policies that facilitate safe and orderly movement across borders and called for mutual respect between migrants and local communities.

He noted that the refugee crisis in Europe has created fear and hatred among local residents, which should be combated by bringing to light the positive contributions of migrants to creating a diverse society.

"We have to make sure that we deal with [the] issue which is going to mark the international landscape for some time," Eliasson said.

He also called on countries to contribute to humanitarian appeals to ease the strain on Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, which bear the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis.

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