Another illustration of how the numbers of the refugee/migration crisis may be inflated, misrepresented or manipulated was brought to my attention by Professor David Ingleby (see my article on Frontex for another example). Many media are reporting with definitive headlines that the EU is expecting ‘another 3 million refugees and migrants in 2016′ (emphasis added). A few examples below:




Even The Guardian, although it didn’t put the 3 million figure in a title, says “more than three million more people are expected to arrive in the EU by the end of next year“, and so on.

The key elements of the headlines are: 1) ‘another’ which reads as ‘on top of the current arrivals’, and b)  ‘by/in 2016’ which reads either as ‘from now to the end of 2016’ or  ‘in 2016 alone’. Both elements however one interprets them are wrong.

In fact, the EC forecast they refer to  is not for 2016, but for 2015-2017 (‘the forecast period’, in EC lingo) and the 3 million figure includes also those who have already entered the EU this year. The extract from European Economic Forecast explains:

European Economic Forecast, Autumn 2015, pag 51

How is it possible that newspapers as different as The Independent, The Guardian and the Daily Mail got such a political sensitive figure wrong? The answer is easier that one can imagine: most, rather than checking the primary source, relied on a piece by the Associated Press . And while the EU paper is certainly not the clearest in its presentation of the forecast of refugee and migrant arrivals, not all newspapers have got it wrong:

The Japan Times (using Reuters)
The Japan Times (using Reuters)


The point here is not the reliability of the EU forecast, which may well be wrong and even underestimating arrivals, but the reliability of media in reporting data especially in a climate of moral panic and insecurity.