I thank the Deputy whom I congratulate on being given this spokesmanship. I look forward to working with him for however long we have left in this Dáil which I imagime will be a few months.
The number of international migrants has risen to 272 million in 2019. That is an extraordinary number and it represents an increase from 221 million in 2010. Clearly, migration is a significant and growing phenomenon. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people move legally and in an orderly fashion. All of the evidence demonstrates that safe, orderly, regular and freely chosen migration benefits countries of both origin and destination, as well as improving the lives of migrants. Migration can also take place in an unsafe and irregular way, often because of hardship and persecution, as illustrated by recent tragedies and the continuing loss of life in the Mediterranean. Conflict and persecution, as well as poverty, lack of opportunity and environmental degradation, continue to propel people to seek out opportunities for sanctuary and livelihoods elsewhere. There are almost 71 million forcibly displaced persons globally.
We support the European Council position that a comprehensive approach is essential. Progress has been made, with the number of irregular border crossings into the European Union at its lowest in five years. Challenges remain, however, and Ireland is working with its EU partners to resolve them and put in place sustainable solutions. In 2015 Ireland committed to accepting up to 4,000 people through the EU relocation programme and the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme. Some 2,600 people have so far arrived in Ireland under these programmes. Ireland has been active in search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean, with the Irish Naval Service having rescued more than 17,500 people there. This year Ireland has agreed to receive up to 100 people disembarked following search and rescue operations as part of the refugee protection programme. Ireland played a key role in the agreement at the United Nations last year of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees, both of which are important frameworks for international co-operation on migration and refugees.
My Department, through Ireland's international development programme, is also supporting efforts to address migration challenges. We are providing €15 million for the EU Trust Fund for Africa which is financing over 200 projects in 26 countries. Our funding for the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey supports almost 1.7 million refugees with basic services. We are contributing over €15 million this year for the vital work of the UNHCR.