FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show European Refugees During World War II?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims to show European refugees trying to board a ship bound for Africa during World War II.

Verdict: False

The image was taken in 1991 and shows Albanian refugees boarding a ship bound for Italy.

Fact Check:

Over 4.5 million people have fled Ukraine as refugees since the Russian invasion began in February, according to data from the United Nations. Millions more have been forced to flee their homes, BBC News reports.

This is not the first time a refugee crisis has unfolded in Europe, according to one Facebook post. The post includes a black and white photo that appears to show hundreds of people attempting to board an over-crowded ship as it prepares to depart.

“These aren’t Syrians,” reads the post’s caption. “They’re Europeans trying to get to North Africa ( Algeria ) during World War II. So next time you think of closing the borders you might want to check with your grandparents.”

The image is digitally altered and occurs after World War II. A reverse image search revealed it actually shows Albanian refugees boarding a ship that was heading to Italy in 1991. The same image, in full color, was featured in a 2015 London Review of Books blog post that explained it shows Albanian refugees leaving on the “Vlora” in August 1991, a ship that was carrying Cuban sugar. The refugees were fleeing from a “disastrous economic, social and political situation in Albania,” according to a January 1992 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe report.

The original image is in color, not black and white, and other images of the ship in color can be found on Getty Images. Footage of the incident pictured can also be found on YouTube. The image shared on Facebook appears to have been altered to make it appear older. (RELATED: Do These Photos Show Black People Being Mistreated In Ukraine?)

The same false claim about the image previously went viral in 2015, according to news.com.au.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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