Greece Migrants
(AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

On Wednesday, The Daily Express published an article with the headline MIGRATION TO EUROPE HAS ROCKETED THIRTY-FOLD THIS YEAR ALONE… AND THE EU ‘IS TO BLAME’. In this article, there were a number of factual inaccuracies.

1. The article reports on total migration to Europe, whereas the press release where the figures are taken from (published by the International Organisation for Migration) concerns Mediterranean migrant arrivals – using its trademark inflammatory language, the paper reports that ‘131,724 people have already flooded into the continent this year‘. The figures are taken from an IoM report about sea-based arrivals to Greece and Italy so far this year. The figures are high due to the current refugee crisis, with the vast majority arriving from Syria (56,000), Afghanistan (31,500) and Iraq (20,500).

2. The article greatly exaggerates the level of increase – the paper reports of a 30-fold increase, whereas the actual level of increase for January and February compared to last year is around 11 times greater. The number of arrivals to Greece and Italy last year was 11,834 for January and February.

3. The article incorrectly states that the UN blames the EU for the increase in arrivals – ‘The UN has blamed the major increase in arrivals largely on EU member states’ inability to reach agreements‘, the paper reports. But the UN criticism of European governments had nothing to do with the numbers arriving, it was concerned with humanitarian implications of their insufficient response. The UN spokesman Adrian Edwards was critical of those countries imposing border restrictions. He blamed ‘inconsistent practices‘ for ‘causing unnecessary suffering and risk… at variance with EU and international law standards‘ before adding that ‘more resources and better coordination‘ was needed.

So the IoM reports that there’s been an increase in refugees arriving via the Mediterranean in the last year and the UN expresses humanitarian concerns about how European countries are dealing with it. With a couple of tweaks, The Daily Express sells it as an exaggerated increase in total migration to Europe and erroneously lays the blame on EU ‘open borders‘.

Note: 130,000 arriving in two months sounds like a high number, and it’s worrying that so many are arriving via the sea as refugees. But the figures need to be put in perspective. Immigration of non-EU nationals to EU countries is regularly around 1.3 to 1.4 million per annum, with the net figure (once emigration has been accounted for) at around 500,000 to 750,000. Bearing in mind that the total population of all EU countries is just over 500 million, even a net increase of 1 million per year would amount to just a 0.2% increase of total population.

Original Daily Express article available here.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.



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