The Syrian refugee crisis across Europe

Through the Lens of Cartography

By Students in the Multimedia Cartography course at Faculty of Geodesy, Academic year 2015/16

The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Maps was envisioned by a group of graduate students enrolled in Multimedia Cartography, a course offered through the Faculty of Geodesy at University of Zagreb. The students jointly produced the multimedia cartography application during the summer 2016 academic term.

This multimedia application combines authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content to tell the story of Syrian refugee crisis through the lens of cartography.

Each student created one map, and also participated in providing additional multimedia content for the multimedia application (images, videos, text, infographics…). Students collaborated in team for creating the final multimedia application, but each student was responsible for the design of one map.


Unidentified Syrian refugee girl
We are now witnessing the highest levels
of displacement on record.

Getting out

First map, made by student Đurđica Šparavec, shows the extent to which Syrians have been displaced from their homes. 22.4 million persons of concern in year 2014 come from 7 countries of origin. While 7.6 million are considered internally displaced, many have crossed over into bordering countries, with more than 1 million seeking refuge in Lebanon and almost 2 million in Turkey.

Click to see this map in full size

The flow towards Europe

The map made by student Barbara Telebec shows the flow of migrants into Europe from the top five origin countries of the asylum seekers, to their most significant destinations. Migrants are represented as planes flying out from their home country and into their host country. Of course, in real life, the journeys of these refugees have hardly been that smooth.

Click to see this map in full size

A way in

Data from Frontex, which monitors the movement of people in Europe, shows that there are eight main migratory routes used by migrants to enter the continent.

The two routes seeing more use are the Eastern Mediterranean route, heading through Turkey, and the West Balkan route.

Animated routes presented on Kristina Bedrica's map show refugees and migrants making their journey to the European Union to seek asylum, travling across the Mediterranean Sea or through Southeast Europe.

Click to see this map in full size

On her map, student Dijana Burazer, showed estimated monthly arrivals in year 2016. through the Western Balkan migratory route.

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Welcome or not?

The influx of refugees is not good news in many European countries - the Washington Post has put together a map showing which countries are building fences to keep people out.
The following map, made by student Valentina Čudina, shows the number of asylum applications lodged in 38 European countries and how that number changed on monthly basis during the year 2015.

Click to see this map in full size

Changing attitudes

Immigration has long been one of the most contentious issues, but the recent surge in Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe has caused a shift in attitudes. In part due to a few specific photos that have been published showing the suffering of refugees there is more sympathy towards migrants than there has been in recent years.

Traditionally, refugees are the subject of pity.
The Reuters images, used in newspapers and on websites around the globe, conveyed the people’s courage, dignity, hope and determination.

In one image, the sun rises over a boat crossing the waters off Turkey. Its outboard engine has just failed. In another, the group’s dinghy has deflated about 100 yards from the shore, ditching the father of a small child, who balances the baby on a life tube as he flounders to safety. In a third, a father stumbles in the water, struggling to keep his drenched baby’s head from going under.

The Story of Syrian refugee crisis across Europe
Through the Lens of Cartography

By Students (in alphabetical order):
Krisina Bedrica, Dijana Burazer, Valentina Čudina, Đurđica Šparavec and Barbara Telebec
in the Multimedia Cartography course at Faculty of Geodesy, Academic year 2015/16