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Every week, there are dozens of stories of asylum seekers taking treacherous paths across Europe in search of shelter. We know the numbers: more than 400,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Europe this year, and nearly 3,000 have died trying in the Mediterranean Sea.

As we try to get a handle on what such a huge movement of people—and loss of life—means, the work of photographers on the ground can help us grasp what the crisis looks like, and put faces to some of those numbers.


The power of a photograph to change the way people see refugees has been made pretty clear by the international reaction to the image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian child seeking refuge with his family when his body washed up on a beach in Turkey.

Here are some of the photographers who have been traveling through Europe for the last couple of months:

Ivor Prickett works for the UNHCR, and has been documenting people arriving on the Greek islands:

On the Balkans route to Western Europe, photographer Ciril Jazbec takes us to the Serbian border with Croatia, where Serbia recently built a fence to keep asylum seekers out:

Daniel Etter, working with the New York Times, brought us this image of a father's relief at reaching safe land after the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean:

Since that photo was taken, Etter has been following refugees on the trail through the Balkans for Human Rights Watch:

Associated Press photographer Emilio Morenatti has been over on the Western side of Europe, on the French border with England. He posted this picture from the refugee camp in Calais, where 5,000 asylum seekers are living in temporary tents:

Ashley Gilbertson, for VII photo agency, has some insight for us on what it's like for refugees finally arriving in Germany, which many consider the final destination in their journeys:

She also had some things to say about what she saw on the Greek island of Lesvos recently:

And Maciek Nabrdalik, also for VII photo, is posting these stark black and white images of people arriving in Greece after surviving the Mediterranean:

Samuel Aranda, working for the New York Times, posted these from Macedonia over the last week:

The humanitarian crisis continues to grow, and the war in Syria (which is where many asylum seekers are coming from) rages on. While world leaders debate what to do next, these photographers give us a real, immediate way to understand the urgency of the situation for hundreds of thousands of people on the ground.