Thousands of individuals, predominantly from sub-Saharan Africa, have recently arrived on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, reigniting the discussion on the EU and European states’ approach to handling illegal immigration. Amidst this context, people online have been sharing three deceptive videos with the intent of disparaging migrants arriving in Italy.
Issued on: 19/09/2023 – 11:58
If you only have a minute
One video shared on X (formerly Twitter) claims to show a fight among migrants in Lampedusa. However, a reverse image search reveals that the video dates to 2021. It shows a fight outside a club, nowhere near Lampedusa.
Some people have also shared a video showing migrants dancing with NGO staff, claiming the scene took place this weekend in Lampedusa. However, the video was taken in August, in the UK.
- Finally, one video claims that migrants who made their way into Europe through Lampedusa had started skirmishes in Stuttgart, Germany. The incident did indeed take place last weekend, but there’s no indication that it involved migrants.
The fact-check, in detail
On September 14, around 7,000 migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa in the span of just 48 hours. So far in 2023, nearly 126,000 migrants have arrived in Italy – twice as many as last year.
Against this backdrop, a number of videos have been shared on social media networks targeting migrants.
This fight between ‘migrants’ dates back to 2021 – and isn’t in Lampedusa
“The migrants in Lampedusa, Italy are getting restless,” reads the caption on this video shared on X on September 18. The video shows a group of people in the midst of a violent fight. A group of young men are seen beating another man, who appears to be taking cover behind a policeman before being chased away by the group.
The video had garnered more than 169,000 views on X before it was deleted.
A simple reverse image search (click here to find out how) reveals that the original video was published on August 10, 2021 by Rossini TV, a regional channel based in Pesaro, central Italy.
The title of the report states that the video shows a brawl in Marotta, a village near Pesaro.
We searched for details about the incident and found that several local newspapers reported on a brawl outside a Marotta club on August 7, 2021. During the fight, which started inside the club, a Senegalese man was stabbed in the abdomen. Two Italian police officers were also injured while trying to intervene. Four people were arrested, including two Albanians, a Dominican, and a Senegalese person.
The video was published two years ago, and has nothing to do with the current influx of migrants to Lampedusa.
These migrants filming themselves dancing with volunteers and members of NGOs were not in Lampedusa
With over 3 million combined views on X, a video posted on several accounts claims to show migrants taking selfies while dancing with volunteers from NGOs, even though they have just arrived on the island of Lampedusa.
There are several indications that the scene did not take place in Lampedusa. Firstly, when the person filming himself with the NGO members dancing, you can see a red and white logo on an employee’s jacket: it identifies the NGO Care4Calais.
On its website, the organisation explains that its volunteers work with refugees in the UK, France and Belgium. Members of Care4Calais are not currently in Lampedusa.
If you go further, using a reverse image search, you can find an earlier post featuring the same video. On August 25, 2023, @BFirstParty, the X account of the British political party Britain First, already published it, accusing the Care4Calais association in the caption of being a “traitorous” NGO, having committed a serious faux-pas by dancing with refugees at the border in the UK.
We contacted Care4Calais, who confirmed that this video does indeed show some of its volunteers dancing with refugees. They also confirmed that the video was not taken this month. The organisation added: “There is no context to the video. As you will be aware, Care4Calais delivers humanitarian aid to refugees in northern France. Whilst distributing that aid, our volunteers interact with refugees with kindness and compassion, often sitting down to share stories (some, as you can imagine, are very harrowing) and in this video they are enjoying a dance.”
Therefore, this video was not taken in Lampedusa, and has nothing to do with the current migrant arrivals on the Italian island.
Clashes don’t involve migrants who arrived via Lampedusa
After the arrival of migrants on the island of Lampedusa, this video was posted on X to denounce the impact of welcoming them to Europe. In a caption, the @Linfo24_7 account claims that the people behind the violent clashes in Stuttgart on Saturday were “illegal immigrants from Lampedusa”.
A reverse image search reveals that the scene was filmed in Stuttgart on September 16. The violence in Germany followed an Eritrean cultural festival organised by groups close to the president, as confirmed by Africa News.
During the day, opponents of the government came to protest against the festival, triggering scuffles between pro- and anti-government Eritrean activists. People close to the opposition were accused of assaulting the police as they intervened to stop the conflict.
There’s no indication that migrants who had just arrived in Lampedusa had travelled to Stuttgart to start riots, or that those involved had arrived via Lampedusa illegally. Furthermore, an article by Sud Ouest explains that, as early as July, a similar conflict had broken out between Eritreans north of Frankfurt.