The Digital Footprint of Europe’s Refugees

Migrants leaving their homes for a new country often carry a smartphone to communicate with family that may have stayed behind and to help search for border crossings, find useful information about their journey or search for details about their destination. The digital footprints left by online searches can provide insight into the movement of migrants as they transit between countries and settle in new locations, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of refugee flows between the Middle East and Europe.1

Refugees from just two Middle Eastern countries — Syria and Iraq — made up a combined 38% of the record 1.3 million people who arrived and applied for asylum in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland in 2015 and a combined 37% of the 1.2 million first-time asylum applicationsin 2016. Most Syrian and Iraqi refugees during this period crossed from Turkey to Greece by sea, before continuing on to their final destinations in Europe.

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