In a 2014 press release, the U.N. reported that 5,000 people crossed from Eritrea to neighboring Ethiopia in October of that year. It was an alarming surge of people fleeing a country with indefinite military service and severe constrictions on personal freedom.
In a more recent, widely publicized report, the U.N. stated that “overall, it is estimated that 5,000 people leave Eritrea each month, mainly to neighbouring countries.” Annually, this outflow represents about 1 percent of the country’s population and accounts for a significant portion of refugees traveling to Europe.
The U.N. has not published or provided the authors with specific sources for its statistics on Eritrean refugees. Press releases become primary points of reference, despite lacking details on methodologies. But dozens of international news outlets have repeated the assertion that 5,000 people flee the country every month. The claim has appeared in Al Jazeera, BBC News, CNN, Fox News, Quartz, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other prominent outlets. Continue reading Why Journalists Should Verify Figures from the U.N. and NGOs