Social media users are freaking out over a false news story claiming a ridiculous amount of African refugees are allegedly flooding European countries. A screenshot of a fabricated New York Post headline that reads, “UN Warns of Massive Refugee Movement from Africa: 500 Million People On Their Way to Europe,” began circulating on Facebook, and Twitter, but was later confirmed to be fake news.
Although fake, the doomed screenshot does highlight a racially motivated fear of African refugees in Western countries as the European Union works to halt migration from African countries.
“We do not have the housing, jobs or spare funds to support endless migration,” one user wrote on Facebook with the fake news. The image of the headline now appears blurred on the social media platform, warning that this is, “false information, checked by independent fact-checkers.” A similar warning appears on Twitter, although the image is not blurred, that reads, “Manipulated media.” But the image still received more than 1,000 likes, and over 600 retweets, with some warning of mixing races, culture, and religion.
Although the screenshot did not include the New York Post logo, the headline was written in the style of the publication, and the byline was accredited to one of its writers. However, a spokesperson from the Post confirmed to the Associated Press that the image is fabricated, and that the publication never ran this story.
Additionally, the information in the headline is way off. The figure of 500 million African refugees is quadruple the amount of total refugees from all across the world, which significantly increased from 89.3 million in December 2021 to 100 million in May 2022 following the war in Ukraine, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The total number of people living in Africa is about 1.3 billion, that means that the fake headline is suggesting that nearly 40% of the total population of the African continent is fleeing to Europe.
The exaggerated number reflects the panic felt by many European countries, and their citizens, over an alleged influx of refugees from African countries. Since 2016, the European Union has been investing large amounts of funds, and resources in trying to keep African refugees in Africa, rather than trying to invest in creating better circumstances for refugees in Europe. Even while fleeing Ukraine, Black or African refugees trying to escape the war in Ukraine faced more discrimination at the border as opposed to their white counterparts.