1. Environmental
October 30, 2015updated 29 Jul 2021 10:19am

This animated map shows the scale and direction of the migrant crisis

By City Monitor Staff

Whether you think European countries should take in more of the refugees attempting to escape the political situation in Syria or not, we can all agree on one thing: the number of displaced people constitutes a crisis. By most estimates, in fact, this is the biggest refugee crisis Europe has faced since World War II. 

It can be a little hard to visualise how all this mass movement of people is playing out, and how what’s happening now fits into the larger historical context. Enter Finnish data visualisation website Lucify. Someone has used its platform to animate UN asylum seeker data since 2012 to show where asylum seekers have come from, and where they’ve gone. This screenshot shows the movement in May of this year (the white bars represent how many refugees each country has taken during the current crisis): 

A brief glance at the animation (you can see it in motion here) gives you a good idea of the situation, but the details take a little more unpacking.

Each one of those blobs (they move like tadpoles, inexplicably) represents 25 people. A bar along the top of the map represents the date; it’s also a graph, showing how many asylum seekers were on the move on different dates. It does a good job of demonstrating the scale of the situation this year:

The visualisation doesn’t quite reach the present day yet, but the site also has static charts showing asylum seeker movement in each month. Here’s the one for September 2015. The countries on the left are where asylum seekers have come from; on the right are their destinations:

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The figure for Serbia bears out the fact that the areas close to countries in crisis tend to take in the most displaced people. It’s also worth noting that, at the moment, this chart is missing data for the United Kingdom, among other countries. 

One final visualisation shows quite clearly how low a proportion Syrian refugees are actually arriving in Europe in the first place. These football fields represent the Syrian refugees who have sought refuge in Europe since April 2011 – around 500,000 of them:

And these represent the ones who have sought refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and North Africa. Around 4m of them.

Rather puts it into perspective, doesn’t it.

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