Around 53,000 South-East Asians mostly Bangladeshis fled towards Thailand and Malaysia through the Bay of Bengal this year, the UNHCR report said.
About 540 people have reportedly died during the journey at sea for beatings, starvation or dehydration. Their bodies were thrown overboard.
The report published on Friday has found that more people are risking their lives on smugglers’ boats in South-East Asia despite the prospect of violence en route.
This includes some 53,000 people left the countries through the Bay of Bengal bound for Thailand and Malaysia, and hundreds of others moving further south in the Indian Ocean, the release read.
With payments ranging from US$1,600 to US$2,400 demanded for each passenger, smugglers plying this route are believed to have generated nearly US$250 million in revenue in the last three years.
While the majority of people paid smugglers for the journey, there were isolated accounts of people who said they were forced onto boats, sometimes at gunpoint, in Myanmar and Bangladesh.