This map shows the routes of Europe's refugee nightmare — and how it's getting worse

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Migrants Cutting New Path to Northern Europe

More than 150,000 refugees entered the European Union in August, increasing the total to more than half a million for the year, the European Union border agency announced.

Though the number of refugees entering Europe had steadily increased over the past 10 months, European leaders were slow to respond, leading to what the EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called the worst refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II.

Where the refugees are coming from — and where they're going

The distribution of refugees among the members of the 28-member EU has been far from equal. Most refugees are trying to reach rich countries with generous immigration policies like Sweden and Germany, and many Eastern European countries are refusing to take in any refugees.

Most try to reach the Schengen area, 26 countries that have abolished border control and allowed free movement of people and goods.

Once there, they move through Macedonia and Serbia into Hungary, from where many continue their journeys to richer countries. Some also reach Hungary by way of Bulgaria and Romania from Turkey.

Europe's refugee crisisBI Graphics

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), EU countries received 437,384 asylum applications from January to July.

The UNHRC also reports that during that time, Germany was by far the country that received the most asylum applications, with 188,486. Hungary came second in place with 65,415 applications, and Sweden took third with 33,234 applications.

Italy was fourth with 30,223, and France was fifth with 29,832 demands.

Many refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and ISIS have been entering the European Union through Greece — 258,365 refugees entered Greece by boat so far this year — after going through Turkey.

See images of the refugees making their way through Europe:

32 PHOTOS
General migrant crisis - Syrian refugees, entering all European countries
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This map shows the routes of Europe's refugee nightmare — and how it's getting worse
Syrian refugee child Jana Makkiyeh, 3, whose family comes from Damascus, Syria, holds a teddy bear while standing near her family's tent at a makeshift camp for asylum seekers in Roszke, southern Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Leaders of the United Nations refugee agency warned Tuesday that Hungary faces a bigger wave of 42,000 asylum seekers in the next 10 days and will need international help to provide shelter on its border, where newcomers already are complaining bitterly about being left to sleep in frigid fields. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A Syrian refugee woman and her daughter, right, sleep while waiting in a bus before being taken by Hungarian police to board a train to the Austrian border, in Roszke, southern Hungary, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. With Hungary cracking down, desperate people fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere struggled to make it into the country, hoping to reach Western Europe before it was too late. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A young Syrian boy is wrapped with a thermal blanket as he arrives with others at the coast on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey, at the island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Afghan child Sohrab Naveed, 1, whose family comes from Kabul Afghanistan, is held by his mother while waiting with others to get into a bus that will take them to the center for asylum seekers, after crossing the Serbian-Hungarian border near Roszke, southern Hungary,Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. At least four countries Friday firmly rejected a European Union plan to impose refugee quotas to ease a worsening migrant crisis that Germany's foreign minister said was "probably the biggest challenge" in the history of the 28-nation bloc. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A Syrian boy tries to warm up himself near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as he waits with his family to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the borders on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Greece is Europe's main entry point for people arriving by sea, as the alternative route from north Africa to Italy has become increasingly dangerous due to fighting in Libya. From Greece, the migrants move north through the Balkans, hoping to gain asylum, preferably in Germany, the Netherlands or Scandinavia. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Migrant and refugee children lie on the ground during a demonstration to protest against Turkish police blocking the access to the road and the ticket office for the Turkey-Greece border towns on September 15, 2015 at Istanbul's Esenler Bus Terminal. Over half a million migrants have crossed the European Union's border so far this year, up from 280,000 in 2014, the bloc's Frontex border agency said on September 15, 2015 -- but warned some people may have been counted twice. AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
ROSZKE, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 13: A young boy wraps up to keep warm as migrants wake up to a cold morning at the Hungarian border with Serbia on September 13, 2015 in Roszke, Hungary. A record number of 4,000 people crossed the Hungarian border with Serbia yesterday. Migrants are rushing to the border due to fears that the borders will soon close before the official closure of midnight on Monday, September 14th. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called 'Balkans route' has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The number of people leaving their homes in war torn countries such as Syria, marks the largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
SANLIURFA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 28: (TURKEY OUT) Kurdish refugee children from the Syrian town of Kobani look on near makeshift tents in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province October 28, 2014. Kurdish fighters, supported by US-led air strikes, have fended off the Islamic State militants offensive into the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani for the last 44 days but remain ill equipped and short on ammunition. (Photo by Kutluhan Cucel/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - JULY 02: Mother of Syrian child refugee 8-year-old Ahmet Kedru, with partial thickness burns on the face, Aisha Kedru weeps as her son demands support for an aesthetic surgery from Turkish doctors to return to the old days on July 02, 2015 in Aleppo's district Azaz. When Ahmet and his family members were inside of a tent that they take shelter in at Azaz district, the tent is burned out. Fire damaged both him and his mother. (Photo by Kerem Kocalar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Syrian refugees wait for transportation after crossing into Turkey from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, near Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, on June 10, 2015. Thousands of people crossed from Syria into Turkey on June 10 to flee a battle pitting Islamist insurgents against Kurdish and opposition forces for the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
SANLIURFA, TURKEY - JUNE 06: A Turkish soldier carries a Syrian girl as she crosses into Turkey with her family from the borderline in Akcakale district of Sanliurfa on June 06, 2015. Hundreds of Syrians who fled from Syria after clashes between Syrian government forces and opponents in Rasulayn region of Al-Hasakah, have crossed into Turkey since Wednesday. (Photo by Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Syrian refugee woman sits as a child sleeps near her early in the morning on Taksim Square, Istanbul, on May 26, 2015. Britain's David Cameron and Russia's Vladimir Putin have agreed to re-start talks on finding a solution to the crisis in Syria, a statement from Cameron said on May 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian Kurdish boy peers as children take lessons on November 10, 2014 in a makeshift school tent in a refugee camp in the town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province. Turkey's maintained an 'open door' policy for all those fleeing Syria's civil war and there are now over 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in the country. More than 280,000 Syrian refugees are living in refugee camps, mostly in the southeast, according Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINI (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Kurdish people watch the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, from the Turkish border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on October 18, 2014. Turkey is turning a deaf ear to insistent pressure to take a more pro-active stance in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists, adding to existing strains with the West under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Western diplomats have repeatedly made clear they want to see the key NATO member play a key role in the coalition against the militants, who are battling for the Syrian town Kobane just a few kilometers from Turkey. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A child cries as Syrian Kurdish people arrive after crossing the border between Syria and Turkey after several mortars hit both side in the southeastern town of Suruc, in the Sanliurfa province on September 29, 2014. Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds flooded into Turkey fleeing an onslaught by the Islamic State (IS) group that prompted an appeal for international intervention. Some of the refugee now want to return to protect their homes and join the fight against IS militants. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Refugees buy tickets at the port of Mitylene on the northeast Greek island of Lesbos to get on board a ferry traveling to Athens, on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. This island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
Afghan refugees play with a baby at the port of Mitylene on the northeast Greek island of Lesbos while waiting to board a ferry traveling to Athens, on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
A group of migrants scan the border area from an abandoned military watch post by the border between Serbia and Hungary, near the village of Horgos, Serbia, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. Record numbers of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea are trying to reach Europe this year, despite the risks of perilous sea crossings and little humanitarian assistance. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Syrian refugees wait at the port of Lesbos island, Greece, to board a ferry traveling to Athens, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Eight-month-old Maria and her father Ibrahim from near of Damascus, Syria, look out of the window during their trip by train from Salzburg, Austria, in Munich, Austria, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. Since four month they are on their way from Syria via Budapest, Vienna to Germany. (AP Photo/ Kerstin Joensson)
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, Syrian men rest as they travel by train from Belgrade to the northern Serbian town of Subotica. The vast majority of migrants are from Syria and Afghanistan, reaching the eastern Aegean Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast, before heading north to cross the border with Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary and onwards to more prosperous European countries. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
A migrant from Syria sleeps at a park in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Thousands of migrants, including many women with babies and small children, have crossed into Serbia over the past few days and are heading toward Hungary and the E.U. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A young migrant woman from Syria looks from a window onboard a train towards Serbia, at the new transit center for migrants on the border with Greece, near southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Thousands of migrants have poured into Macedonia and board trains and busses that are taking them a step closer to the European Union. Police are letting the migrants pass across the border Monday, directing them to the new transit center for migrants near the border line. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Eight-month-old baby Nejmi, from Aleppo, Syria, sleeps on a sidewalk near Basmane train station in the coastal city of Izmir, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. The migrants hope to make it to Greece in boats and eventually reach wealthier European countries north. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)
A migrant from Syria waits at the port of Kos island, Greece, on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, after she and others were rescued by Greek Coast Guard while they were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece on a dinghy. Greece and Italy are the main points of entry into the European Union for refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East and Africa hoping to reach other European Union countries. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 photo, a Jordanian soldier carries a Syrian child arriving in Jordanian territory in the Roqban reception point near the northeastern Jordanian border with Syria, and Iraq, near the town of Ruwaished, 240 km (149 miles) east of Amman. The commander of Jordan's Border Guard told The Associated Press that 199 refugees crossed from Syria into Jordan on Thursday. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Wednesday, July 22, 2015 photo, Syrian refugee Eidah Hassoun, 36, sits with her children inside their tent at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. More than 10,000 children have died in Syria's four-year conflict, while over 2.8 million in and out of the country donât go to school, according to the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A Syrian refugee carries a baby after crossing over the broken border fence into Turkey from Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The mass displacement of Syrians across the border into Turkey comes as Kurdish fighters and Islamic extremists clashed in nearby city of Tal Abyad. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Under the watchful eye of Turkish soldiers, top, Syrian refugees are stuck after breaking the border fence and crossing into Turkey from Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The mass displacement of Syrians across the border into Turkey comes as Kurdish fighters and Islamic extremists clashed in nearby city of Tal Abyad. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Syrian refugee children sit on the ground inside their tent home as they take their dinner at a Syrian refugee camp, in Deir Zannoun village in the Bekaa valley, eastern Lebanon, on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. A snow storm is expected to hit Lebanon Monday affecting Syrian refugees, many of whom live in tents without heating. The government estimates there are about 1.5 million Syrians in Lebanon, about one-quarter of the total population. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A Syrian Kurdish refugee child from the Kobani area eats bread at a refugee camp in Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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Other Syrians try to reach Italy from Greece or attempt to head to Austria by going through Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. An increasingly popular route to enter the Schengen zone is through Norway, by way of Russia and Lebanon.

The refugees entering from African countries are reaching the EU mostly through Italy (121,500 arrivals by sea in 2015) and Spain (1,953 arrivals by sea). Once they arrive in Italy, many apply for asylum there, but some try to cross into France. From there, many attempt the perilous crossing of the Eurotunnel into the United Kingdom.

Growing numbers and tensions

At his annual state of the union address last week, EU president Jean-Claude Juncker announced a plan to resettle 160,000 refugees throughout the members of the EU.

The plan includes a quota of refugees per country, a measure that has been met with criticism but that was still approved by the European Parliament. Countries in Eastern Europe have vehemently opposed the mandatory relocation of refugees, leading Juncker to suggest that those nations might see their EU funding cut if they continue to refuse to take refugees in.

Germany's vice chancellor said that while the relocation proposal was a first step, it was also "a drop in the ocean that won't solve everything," according to the Associated Press.

Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, has been one of the most vociferous proponents of keeping the refugees out of Europe. Believing that the refugees are a threat to Europe's Christian identity, Orban has called for tougher border controls.

On Monday, Hungary completed the construction of the fence along its southern border with Serbia, and on Tuesday new laws came into force, allowing Hungary to reject asylum requests from anyone who did not apply for asylum in Serbia. The government also declared a state of emergency in its two southern counties over the refugee crisis, paving the way to deploy the army at the border.

The country has been heavily criticized in recent weeks for its treatment of refugees, and the spotlight was shone on the country in early September, when a video of a camerawoman kicking a refugee went viral.

New border controls

On the other side of the spectrum is Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that there was no "legal limit" to the number of refugees it would take in — but stressed that the people entering Germany who did not have the right to claim asylum would need to go back to their countries.

See migrants arriving in Germany:

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Migrants arriving in Germany
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This map shows the routes of Europe's refugee nightmare — and how it's getting worse
SCHOENEFELD, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: A policeman touches the window playing with a child while migrants take a bus after arriving on an ICE high-speed train of Deutsche Bahn from Munich near Berlin on September 13, 2015 in Schoenefeld, Germany. In an effort to deal with a weekend influx of over 13,000 migrants in Munich Deutsche Bahn for the first time reserved an ICE train solely for the migrants and asked regular passenger to switch to other trains. Germany is struggling to accommodate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the last few weeks, most of them via the so-called Balkan route through Serbia, Hungary and Austria. Migrants arriving at Schoenefeld are transferred with buses to shelters in Berlin. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
Migrants and refugees arrive at a tent village at the Donnersberg bridge close to the central train station in Munich, Germany, Sunday Sept. 13, 2015 .Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and others are still making their way slowly across Europe, seeking shelter where they can, taking a bus or a train where one is available, walking where it isn't. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)
Refugees are seen after arriving at the main railway station in Dortmund, western Germany, on September 13, 2015. Germany may take in one million refugees this year, up from the record 800,000 arrivals predicted so far, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on September 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / MAJA HITIJ +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read MAJA HITIJ/AFP/Getty Images)
Refugee children wave as they sit in a special train heading to western German town of Dortmund at the main train station in Munich, southern Germany, on September 13, 2015. Thousands of refugees arrived in Germany during the weekend, coming from Hungary and Austria. AFP PHOTO / DPA / SVEN HOPPE +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read SVEN HOPPE/AFP/Getty Images)
Refugees walk down the stairs after arriving at the main railway station in Dortmund, western Germany, on September 13, 2015. Germany may take in one million refugees this year, up from the record 800,000 arrivals predicted so far, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on September 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / MAJA HITIJ +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read MAJA HITIJ/AFP/Getty Images)
Migrants arrive from Munich at Schoenefeld train station near Berlin, Sunday Sept. 13, 2015. ( Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
Boys play with a ball at a tent village for migrants and refugees at the Donnersberg bridge close to the central train station in Munich, Germany, Sunday Sept. 13, 2015. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and others are still making their way slowly across Europe, seeking shelter where they can, taking a bus or a train where one is available, walking where it isn't. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)
Migrants wait for a special train for Berlin in the hall of the main train station in Munich, southern Germany, on September 13, 2015. Thousands of refugees arrived in Germany during the weekend, coming from Hungary and Austria. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Refugees walk to a train bound for Dortmund at the main railway station on September 13, 2015 in Munich, Germany. Hundreds of refugees, mainly from Syria and Iraq, arrive in Germany after Hungary has opened his borders for them to travel for Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SCHOENEFELD, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Migrants leave the trainstation after arriving on an ICE high-speed train of Deutsche Bahn from Munich near Berlin on September 13, 2015 in Schoenefeld, Germany. In an effort to deal with a weekend influx of over 13,000 migrants in Munich Deutsche Bahn for the first time reserved an ICE train solely for the migrants and asked regular passenger to switch to other trains. Germany is struggling to accommodate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the last few weeks, most of them via the so-called Balkan route through Serbia, Hungary and Austria. Migrants arriving at Schoenefeld are transferred with buses to shelters in Berlin. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
SCHOENEFELD, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Migrants takes a bus after arriving on an ICE high-speed train of Deutsche Bahn from Munich near Berlin on September 13, 2015 in Schoenefeld, Germany. In an effort to deal with a weekend influx of over 13,000 migrants in Munich Deutsche Bahn for the first time reserved an ICE train solely for the migrants and asked regular passenger to switch to other trains. Germany is struggling to accommodate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the last few weeks, most of them via the so-called Balkan route through Serbia, Hungary and Austria. Migrants arriving at Schoenefeld are transferred with buses to shelters in Berlin. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
SCHOENEFELD, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Migrants takes a bus after arriving on an ICE high-speed train of Deutsche Bahn from Munich near Berlin on September 13, 2015 in Schoenefeld, Germany. In an effort to deal with a weekend influx of over 13,000 migrants in Munich Deutsche Bahn for the first time reserved an ICE train solely for the migrants and asked regular passenger to switch to other trains. Germany is struggling to accommodate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the last few weeks, most of them via the so-called Balkan route through Serbia, Hungary and Austria. Migrants arriving at Schoenefeld are transferred with buses to shelters in Berlin. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
SCHOENEFELD, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: A girl waves holding balloons through the window as migrants take a bus after arriving on an ICE high-speed train of Deutsche Bahn from Munich near Berlin on September 13, 2015 in Schoenefeld, Germany. In an effort to deal with a weekend influx of over 13,000 migrants in Munich Deutsche Bahn for the first time reserved an ICE train solely for the migrants and asked regular passenger to switch to other trains. Germany is struggling to accommodate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the last few weeks, most of them via the so-called Balkan route through Serbia, Hungary and Austria. Migrants arriving at Schoenefeld are transferred with buses to shelters in Berlin. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Migrants arrive by train at Munich Hauptbahnhof railway station on September 13, 2015 in Munich, Germany. German authorities are expecting 10,000 migrants to arrive on trains today, mostly from Hungary via Austria, on top of the approximately 20,000 that have arrived in the last 48 hours. Germany is distributing the migrants across the country and is struggling to register and house them. Many of the migrants are coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and are reaching western Europe via the Balkans. (Photo by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images)
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On Sunday night, Germany announced it was reinstating border controls with Austria to stem to flow of refugees entering the country. The next day Austria did the same, and other countries are set to copy it as the situation worsens by the day.

The measures go against the principle of the Schengen agreement, which guarantees free movement of people among the countries that are part of the zone.

The refugee crisis is becoming so dire that people are starting to speculate that it will cause Britain to leave the EU for good. Others say the crisis will lead to the end of the EU.

Nevertheless, the European leaders do not seem willing to take mind of the scope of the crisis. The United Nations warned last week that if the war in Syria continued, millions of refugees were expected to enter Europe in the coming years.

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