Europe was overwhelmed last year by one of the biggest migration waves since the end of World War II, and the migrants are still coming. Reasons for the crisis and what 2016 may hold:

 

Q: What’s behind the increase?

A: The surge was driven by Syrians, many of whom have lost hope that the war that has torn apart their country will be brought to an end. They made up nearly half the migrants who arrived in Europe in 2015.

Afghanistan accounted for about 21 percent of arrivals and Iraq 7 percent. Around the world, nearly 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of war, conflict and persecution, the highest number ever recorded.

 

Q: Where are the migrants going?

A: The overwhelming majority of those trying to reach Europe — more than 844,000, the United Nations says — cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to nearby Greek islands. But most move north to wealthier destinations.

Germany has received nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers — more than any other European Union nation.

Some poorer European nations have tried to curb the influx by dispatching troops to their borders and building miles of fences.

 

Q: What’s being done?

A: Germany tried to persuade all E.U. members to accept a share of migrants. Those efforts largely failed. Slightly more than 200 people have been relocated so far.

The focus has now shifted to finding ways to discourage the migrants from embarking on the dangerous journey to Europe — and to ensure that those who reach Europe are systematically registered and vetted.

 

Q: Is peace possible in Syria?

A: The crisis in Europe has renewed interest in finding a diplomatic solution to the war that has killed more than 200,000 people and left Syria in the hands of Islamist militants.

Russia’s air campaign on behalf of President Bashar Assad’s government hasn’t helped, in the view of the U.S., which heads a coalition that has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura plans to convene another round of talks in Geneva on Jan. 25. But negotiators face enormous obstacles: How to decide Assad’s fate? How to persuade countries that have been drawn into the war, including archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, to cooperate?

Los Angeles Times