Top 5 problems with the Sun’s ‘1 million migrants’ story

Are 1 million migrants really 'heading this way'?


The front page of today’s Sun booms: ‘1M MIGRANTS HEADING THIS WAY’

Sun 23 9 15

Is this true? And if so, what does this mean in context?

Here are the top five problems with this misleading story:

1. The story is about Europe as a whole, not just Britain.

Why say ‘this way’ instead of ‘to Europe’? A casual reader might get the wrong end of the stick – and be more likely to buy the newspaper. (Even the Express avoided this level of sensationalism.)

2. This 1 million figure is a projection for the whole of 2015, based on the number of people who have entered Europe so far this year.

Here’s the source in context, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report:

“Until the end of August, the European Border Agency FRONTEX counted more than 500,000 illegal border crossings, nearly double the 280,000 recorded for the whole of 2014.

Europe will probably record more than one million asylum applications in 2015. Up to 450,000 of these are expected to obtain a status of humanitarian migrant and eventually settle.”

As you may have noticed, this means…

3. This projection is for asylum seekers, not for ‘migrants’. 

This elision is so commonly pointed out now it’s almost a cliche. But anyone who thought the Sun’s coverage of the death of Aylan Kurdi signalled a shift on this point were fooling themselves. For the right-wing press, as we said at the time, nothing has really changed.

4. Less than half of these people are expected to stay in Europe. 

As the same passage shows, ‘up to 450,000’ will likely receive asylum. That’s in a continent of 740 million people.

By contrast, countries in the developing word currently have a million or so people in their countries alone. Turkey has around 2 million, while a quarter of the population of Lebanon is now from Syria.

It’s also worth noting that asylum claims in the UK are barely affected by this movement. Frontex stats show a mere 2 percent rise from April to June against the first three months of 2015. That’s around 7,000 people.

5. These numbers are not a surprise. 

Germany alone is expecting 800,000 people this year. The total number for Europe was obviously going to be higher than this. But again, the population of Europe is 740 million.

If 1 million do come to Europe this year, it will make up 0.13 percent of Europe’s current population.

Yet again, the Sun is giving its readers a false picture of reality.


About that front page: Arsene Wenger was born in Strasbourg, Alsace, making him… a ‘migrant’.


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Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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