XV.1 Refugee Flow

Abin Abraham

Will (Jiahao) Su

Beginning in 2015, Europe saw a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking refuge from drought, poverty, and violence. Many crossed the Mediterranean Sea or traveled by land through Southeast Europe from the Middle East and Africa. Refugee Flow is a tool for the exploratory investigation of this migration crisis. Combining multiple data sets with interactive visualizations, the project aims to increase understanding of human trajectories.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 68.5 million people are forcibly displaced around the world. Funding to tackle the current challenge is decreasing, not increasing. By 2050, the continued impact of climate change will forcibly displace 1 billion people.

Collecting data on people who, because of circumstances beyond their control, are unlikely to be documented, is a challenge. Refugee Flow draws on data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) to visualize factors that cause people to leave their home countries. This data is combined with the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants data set to visualize causes of death for those en route. A third data set connects adverse outcomes upon arrival with news stories of struggles faced by migrants.

Refugee Flow and its companion website can be found at http://refugeeflow.world/landing.


Abraham, Abin and Will (Jiahao) Su. 2018. Refugee Flow. In “15th Iteration (2019): Macroscopes for Tracking the Flow of Resources.” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Lisel Record. http://scimaps.org.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.