The river of migrants is bloody and unending

Migrants who have just crossed the border from Serbia into Hungary rest as they wait to be processed at a reception center near Szeged, Aug. 28, 2015.
Matt Cardy

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Need to know:

It seems like every day there is a new tragedy involving the deaths of refugees and migrants fleeing war, violence and poverty for a better life in Europe.

On Thursday, after news broke that 71 bodies, believed to be Syrians, were found decomposing in an abandoned poultry truck in Austria, we learned of two boats carrying up to 500 migrants that capsized off the coast of Libya. At least 200 bodies were found floating in the vicinity of the city of Zuwara. 

The problem is bad, and it's getting worse. The International Office of Migration has recorded 2,432 deaths linked to Mediterranean migrant crossings this year, a figure that is expected to rise. Of course, there are many who make it. In July alone, 107,500 people arrived in Europe. 

The pressure to find a solution is intensifying. Resources are being stretched to the limit, particularly in Greece, Italy and Hungary, where most migrants first arrive before moving on to richer EU countries like Germany, France and Sweden.

Some countries are taking an increasingly hardline stance. Hungary, for example, has built a giant fence along its border in an effort to stop the flow of men, women and children. That strategy isn't working too well. Meanwhile, a meeting of European leaders to address the largest migrant crisis since World War II ended without an apparent consensus or way forward.

Here are six facts and figures that help explain the scale of the problem — and why Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said it threatens the "soul" of Europe.

Want to know:

The internet is capable of amazing things, some of them wonderful. This image of a Syrian refugee and his daughter went viral. Then the donations came pouring in.

It is an image that sums up the desperation of millions of Syrian refugees: a man selling a handful of pens by the side of the road in Beirut, with his exhausted daughter hanging over his shoulder.

Icelandic activist Gissur Simonarson posted the picture of Abdul and 4-year-old Reem on social media, where it was shared tens of thousands of times with the hashtag #buypens.

Simonarson was inundated with offers of donations, so he launched a crowdfunding page to raise money to help Abdul start a new life for his daughter and 9-year-old son Abdelillah. Within 30 minutes his goal of $5,000 was raised and within hours, donations had reached $50,557.

Abdul, a Palestinian-Syrian, is in Lebanon, seeking refuge from the civil war in Syria. He had fled besieged Yarmouk — an unofficial Palestinian refugee camp in the suburbs of Damascus — an area of Syria that has been cut off from food and water for months at a time.

Strange but true:

To save the camels, fight for the right to slaughter them. In India, that counter-intuitive statement makes sense.

Why? Let's start at the beginning. The camel population is hurting in Rajasthan, a state in northwestern India where the camel plays a key role for members of the Raika caste. The number of camels plunged from more than a million to fewer than 200,000 over the past 20 years. 

In an effort to save the camel, a nonprofit called Lokhit Pashu Palak Sansthan, or "Welfare Organization for Livestock Keepers," fought to make the camel Rajasthan's state animal — which it did last year. As a result of the camel becoming state animal, the government enacted protections for dromedaries, including in March a ban on their export and slaughter. 

Now, it is an ugly truth, but to make meat you need to slaughter an animal. The ban has made that impossible. In doing so, the ban has also removed the one aspect of keeping camels that was an economic incentive.

Camel profitability has been on the decline along with the fact that they are longer needed as pack animals in the age of trucks and trains. Camels are valued for one thing now: their meat. 

And that's why that same nonprofit that was fighting to make the camel Rajasthan's state animal is now fighting for the right of camel traders to slaughter them. Kill them to keep them, the reasoning goes. Slaughtering some camels will actually help the animal stay alive in the long run.