The Massive Scale Of The Refugee Crisis, Visualized

An interactive representation of what the UN calls the worst migration crisis since World War II.


Today, over 60 million people in the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes, making this the worst refugee crisis since World War II, according to the United Nations.


From Syria alone, an estimated 800,000 refugees have sought asylum in Europe since the outbreak of the country’s civil war in 2011. Even then, only a small fraction of them make it all the way there: the UN has registered over four million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and North Africa, most ending up in refugee camps near the border.

All Images: via Lucify

The story of the crisis has been told through heartbreaking personal accounts, damning political statements, and daunting statistics like the ones above. Recently, the Finnish design group Lucify decided to demonstrate the magnitude in visual terms–with a poignant interactive map that shows the flow of asylum seekers to and from different countries each month over the last four years.

The firm used data published monthly from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that tallies up the asylum seekers for each origin-destination country pair based on information collected by agencies in the destination countries (i.e. the number of Syrian refugees that arrived in Germany in December 2015). Each dot on the map represents 25 people on a web browser or 50 people on mobile. (A telling sign of the crisis’ scale: the designers realized that if they represented each person with a dot the map would have been way too crowded and thus hindered interaction.) Hover your mouse over each country to see the number of people who have left or come in, or shift the speed on the sliding bar up top to see the huge flow of people from Africa in the Middle East into Europe since 2012.

The most useful tool in the infographic is probably the timeline, located just above the map. Though the years aren’t shown, you can see a huge uptick in migration around 2014 when more people were displaced from Syria than anywhere else in the world. Slide your cursor quickly back and forth along the time line to grasp how massive the refugee situation has become.

(via @alice.rawsthorn)

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.