Graphics: Europe's asylum seekers
Syria's brutal civil war is pushing a new wave of migrants towards Europe. Their numbers have surged, but many asylum seekers in Europe have also fled the conflicts and turmoil in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.
European governments are struggling to co-ordinate their response to the influx. Large movements of migrants from country to country quickly fuel suspicions that some politicians are trying to shift the burden onto their neighbours.
Greece and Italy - major entry points for migrants - say there must be more burden-sharing in the EU, especially as they have been hit hard by the eurozone crisis. Migrants continue to board overcrowded, rickety boats, risking their lives. The recent deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean highlighted their plight.
Asylum is granted to those who say they are fleeing persecution and who can convince the authorities that they would face harm or even death if they were to be sent back.
Nearly a quarter of asylum applications in the EU are handled by Germany. France is the second biggest destination for asylum seekers. But often English-speaking migrants head for the UK, which is home to large communities from Pakistan, Somalia and Middle Eastern countries.
Among the asylum seekers from Russia there are many Chechens, whose homeland was devastated by war between separatist rebels and Russian troops.
The asylum seekers from Serbia include many Roma and ethnic Albanians, who complain of discrimination in Serbia.
The global asylum picture shows the US is the top destination for asylum seekers, but Germany and France are second and third. Sweden, with a much smaller population, is fourth, ahead of the UK.
Europe is the main destination for asylum seekers by far. For many of them it is easier to reach overland or by boat, especially those fleeing conflicts in the Middle East or Africa. And people traffickers already have well-established smuggling routes to Europe. The figures illustrate why immigration has become such a hot topic in Europe.
Globally Afghanistan ranks first in terms of asylum seekers' country of origin. But the war in Syria has pushed that country into second place. China and Pakistan are also major countries of origin. Both countries have minorities and dissidents who oppose the government.