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What is the actual extent of the refugee crisis in Europe?

Not a day goes by without new headlines about Europe's refugee crisis. But what dimensions has it really taken on? To get a grip on numbers, we've put together the most up-to-date data for you. Have a look.

Refugees, asylum seekers, migrants - thousands of people, millions even. It's so easy to loose track in the current situation, which creates the perfect conditions for misperceptions and misunderstandings - and could even cause concern. To address that fear and confusion we decided to look at the facts, to really understand the situation.

Every day 42,500 people are displaced from their homes - some are seeking a new one in the same country, some of them moving abroad. "Immigration to Germany" and "Asylum in Germany" are the two most googled search terms in Syria, for example.

If you want to understand the scope of the issue, one distinction is particularly important to make when you delve into the statistics. Official authorities distinguish between refugees and asylum seekers.

Refugees are people recognised under the 1951 UN convention, which grants them protection outside their country of origin. In 2014, 19.5 million people were refugees. The largest share of them - 4 million - originate from Syria. That number is followed by 2.6 million Afghan people and 1.1 million Somalians.

Up until now, there are no official figures on how many refugees each country took in in 2015 - most numbers refer to the previous year. Once more current refugee data are available, this article will be updated accordingly.

Asylum seekers are people who are seeking protection, but for whom it's still unclear whether they're eligible for refugee status. When they apply for asylum, they are requesting to be officially recognised as a refugee. If their application is granted, they are then considered as refugees, too. In 2014, there were 1.8 million asylum seekers in total, according to UNHCR estimates.

For the first half of 2015, the numbers of first-time asylum applications issued in each European country have already been published. Once more current data are available, this article will be updated accordingly.

The EU figures for each month in 2015 are higher than last year's.

Even if all new asylum applications were approved, the population of each of the above-listed countries would increase by less than 1 percent.

However, far from all the applications have a positive outcome - on EU average, less than half of applications are approved.

As previously mentioned, asylum seekers only make up a small fraction of migrants. The far larger share are refugees. In 2014, the majority of them found shelter in Turkey, making it the country hosting the most refugees worldwide.

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For 2015, the numbers are not yet widely available - however, several countries have announced their commitments, establishing how many refugees they are willing to take in.

A face behind the numbers

If you find mere numbers boring and prefer stories that have a face: cross the border to Europe with a Syrian refugee, who escaped war in his home country and made his way to Sweden.

Watch video 11:00

#borderlines: Crossing borders to escape war

We plan to update these charts four times a year, once new data are available. Data on how many refugees each European country took in will be available by the end of October, Eurostat told us.

In the meantime give us some inspiration: What else would you be interested in? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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