A gruesome discovery this week of 71 bodies decomposing in a tractor-trailer truck parked near the Austrian border shone a new light on the massive humanitarian crisis facing Europe. Ten of thousands of migrants are fleeing war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to embark on dangerous treks to Eastern Europe and EU countries.
Many are following the Balkans route, in which they journey from Turkey to Greece by sea before walking or taking a bus north to Macedonia, then taking a train or traveling by foot to Serbia and walking the final miles to Hungary, an EU member. They then face three layers of hastily placed razor wire lining the 109-mile border than runs between Hungary and Serbia. Migrants, including families with young children, are using makeshift methods to raise up the dangerous barrier and slip into the country.
The arduous journey is still considered safer than attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Italy. Also this week, 50 bodies were found aboard a smuggler’s boat along that route.
“The world’s eyes are upon us,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Thursday at a meeting in Vienna of European leaders. “This is a warning for us to tackle the issue of migration quickly. We have more refugees in the world than at any time since World War II.”
NBC News’ Alastair Jamieson contributed to this article. Below, see photos of the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.