According to the United Nations, more than 12 million people – including 5.6 million children – have fled Syria to escape the horrors of the country’s civil war and invasion by the militant Islamic State (IS).
Worldwide, the UN also reports an unparalleled 59.5 million people are displaced by hundreds of different economic, health and military crises in as many countries. The movement of refugees toward Europe from Syria and other broken nations has caused the continent’s greatest refugee crisis since World War II.
Finland-based Lucify, which creates interactive data visualisations to help organisations analyse and communicate important data, recently displayed the refugee migration to Europe in stunning form.
Using UN data from 2012 through December 2015, its latest interactive map offers a time-lapse view of refugee migration and country-by-country statistics. Between April 2011 and November 2015, more than 800,000 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe.
When viewing worldwide data, the map confirms that Germany has experienced the greatest influx of refugees, taking in nearly 600,000 people since 2012. Intriguingly, the data also shows an enormous flow of migrants from Russia and the Balkan states. But by far the greatest flow is from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
Negotiations continue in Geneva
To stop this flow of people, dozens of Syrian rebel groups are hoping to negotiate in Geneva this week with representatives of the Syrian government.
Opposition delegates say they are prepared for direct meetings with government negotiators. Perhaps the biggest issue at hand is the future of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The opposition is demanding he step down before the beginning of any transitional period.
Yesterday, Syrian government chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari refused direct talks with the opposition leaders. Currently, UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is conducting indirect negotiations, shuttling between the two sides to convey demands and counteroffers.
And peace talks were further complicated this morning when a new opposition negotiating bloc called the Moscow-Cairo Group arrived in Geneva. The pro-Russian group's membership includes former Syrian deputy prime minister for economic affairs Qadri Jamil, who was once part of the government of President Bashar al Assad, and Fateh Jamous of the Communist Labour Party.
Little is yet known about the new group, which is tolerated by the Syrian government and does not demand the removal of Mr al Assad as a requirement for the formation of a transitional government, something government negotiators say is impossible.
The main opposition group, the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee, has demanded Mr al Assad step down. An unnamed Western diplomat told AFP that the Moscow-Cairo Group was sent to Geneva to make the opposition appear fractured and to delegitimise the High Negotiations Committee.
This round of negotiations is scheduled to end on March 24.
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