Europe’s border agency is facing criticism, after admitting that it has doubled-counted migrants entering the EU this year.
It released data claiming 710,000 migrants had entered the bloc from January-September this year.
But it later admitted some migrants would have been counted coming in twice, at the Greek border and then again as they travelled north into Hungary or Croatia.
Nando Sigona, a researcher on migration at the University of Birmingham in England, said: “I’m still amazed how Frontex could release such sensitive figures so light-heartedly, considering the impact that numbers have on the moral panic regarding migration and the political debate.”
A spokeswoman for Frontex told euronews that the agency had admitted that it had double-counted a few hours after releasing the information on Tuesday (October 13).
“We did issue a clarification,” she said. “We just use the data provided to us by the member states.”
The spokeswoman added that the agency had published the number of migrants entering Hungary because it was the only way of capturing people from the Balkans, such as Kosovo, who were moving northwards to enter the EU.
Asked about whether the agency should have published an article with a headline claiming 710,000 had entered the EU, the spokeswoman said Frontex would continue to publish the data in the same way, alongside a clarification about the double-counting.
To clarify the accuracy of Frontex’s data, euronews has also examined data from the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR).
The UNHCR says 588,247 migrants arrived by sea to the EU from January to October this year. This figure does not include those who travelled into Europe across land borders.
Frontex says 710,000 crossed the EU’s frontiers – land and sea – from January to September.
The difference in figures amounts to around 122,000. The number of people over-counted will fall into this amount, but it is unclear exactly how many.
People from the Balkans who entered Hungary, for example, should be subtracted. Frontex does not have specific data on this aspect. But it says there were around 30,000 Kosovans and Albanians who entered EU land borders (not just Hungary) from January to June this year.
Figures for those entering the EU could also be under the real figure. Frontex’s spokeswoman said its data did not include those who cross borders undetected, such as migrants who arrived in Greece and are then smuggled to Italy.
Infographic: Migrants entering Europe in 2015