Reporter's Notebook

The Global Refugee Crisis
Show Description +

Tens of thousands of people are fleeing civil war and unrest to find new homes in Europe—sometimes with tragic consequences. The U.N. estimates that more people have been displaced than at any time since World War II. Scroll down to see the stories on this topic.

Show None Newer Notes
Police examine the abandoned truck near Parndorf, Austria.  (AP Photo / Ronald Zak)

Austrian authorities say up to 50 migrants were found dead today in a truck abandoned on the side of the highway in the eastern part of the country.  

The discovery coincided with a meeting in Vienna in which European leaders discussed the worst migrant crisis since World War II.

People light candles Thursday in front of the police station in Eisenstadt, Austria, in tribute to the migrants whose bodies were found inside an abandoned truck. (Ronald Zak / AP)

This post was updated on August 28 at 9 a.m. ET

Here’s what we know this morning about the bodies that were found in an abandoned truck in Austria on Thursday:

-- Officials now say there were 71 people in the truck, and that it’s likely the Syrian migrants suffocated.

-- Three people were arrested in Hungary in connection with the discovery. One of them is reported to be the truck’s owner; the other two the drivers.

A great deal—even though the terms are often used interchangeably.

But the distinction becomes important because the world is witnessing the worst refugee crisis since World War II—one with sometimes-tragic consequences. Here’s how the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines refugees:

Refugees from the Middle East walk on railway tracks in Roszke, Hungary, on Sunday. (Darko Bandic / AP)

EU officials will meet for an emergency session in Brussels on September 14 as Europe tries to tackle the flow of people—many of them fleeing civil wars in Syria and Libya—into the region.

The announcement comes following last week’s discovery in Austria of the bodies of 71 migrants in an abandoned truck, and after hundreds of people died when the boats carrying them capsized in the Mediterranean.

Migrants face Hungarian police in the main railway station in Budapest on Tuesday.  (Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)

Hungary has closed the main train station in Budapest to migrants—many of them refugees—to prevent them from traveling through the European Union.

The move appears to be an attempt by the country, itself an EU member, to enforce the rules of the bloc, which requires that migrants be first processed in the EU country they enter. Hungary had earlier allowed the migrants to board trains without registering them or checking their paperwork.

Refugees in Budapest (Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)

Europe’s refugee crisis has been described as the worst of its kind since World War II, at the end of which there were more than 40 million refugees in the region.

The crisis led to the creation of international laws and organizations that would become the foundation of the world’s refugee response today.

The crisis is being described as the worst since World War II.

Just last month, 107,500 migrants crossed into Europe, and the U.N. estimates that the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year exceeds 300,000. Nearly 2,000 landed in Greece overnight.

We decided to look at where the migrants are coming from and which EU countries they are going to using data for the first quarter of this year from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency. Here’s what we found:

A girl covers her face as migrants try to board a train at the Keleti station in Budapest, Hungary, on Thursday. (Petr David Josek / AP)

Hungary’s prime minister says the migrant crisis that has produced scenes of chaos and desperation at Budapest’s Keleti station are “not a European problem. The problem is a German problem.”

“Nobody would like to stay in Hungary,” Viktor Orban, the prime minister, said at a news conference in Brussels. “All of them would like to go to Germany.”

The number of migrants who have crossed the EU’s borders this year: 340,000. The European Union’s population: 508.2 million. (Incoming migrants are 0.067 percent of the total population).

Syria—which is in the midst of a bloody civil war—is the largest source for these migrants. The conflict has created 4 million refugees.

Of these, 1.9 million are in Turkey (population 75 million), 1.1 million are in Lebanon (population 4.4 million), 629,245 in Jordan (population 6.459 million).

The U.S. has about 1,500—though that number could increase. There are zero in the wealthy Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.

Migrants wait for trains at Keleti station in Budapest today. (Leonhard Foeger / Reuters)

For now, at least. Thousands of migrants who were holed up in Budapest’s Keleti railway station this week arrived at the Austrian border early Saturday, the AP reports. By the afternoon, 5,000 had made it to Austria and Germany.

The train station looks very different now, but hundreds more, fleeing their homes to escape war and poverty, are expected to cross into Hungary this year.

Riccardo De Luca / AP

Updated on September 6 at 1:02 p.m. ET

Pope Francis wants European parishes to offer shelter to migrant families.

“Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family,” he said in today’s Angelus at St. Peter’s Square.