EU breaks promise of safe passage for 50,000 refugees

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Germany

Organisation: Deutsche Welle

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 14/10/2019

Credit: Tom Wills

Project description:

When European Union countries promised to take 50,000 refugees in a new resettlement program, it made headlines around the world. Two years later, as the deadline approached, everyone had forgotten about it. Meanwhile, refugee agencies trying to get people out of barbaric detention camps in Libya were complaining that the promised resettlement opportunities were slow in forthcoming – prolonging the suffering of desperate people. Enquiries to the European Commission revealed that the program was way behind. We collected data from 20 countries to produce an accountability piece revealing who had failed to deliver otheir pledges to help people in desperate

Impact reached:

The story was one of the most-read articles of the week on the DW English website.

The story was also told in TV form, in a segment on DW’s English-language news bulletins including The Day, the evening program which is rebroadcast by PBS and other partners around the world.

On radio, the story was reported in DW’s AfricaLink programme, which is broadcast on FM partner stations in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia, as well as online via Facebook and podcast platforms.

The story was followed up by international media outlets including the Jerusalem Post, as well as being syndicated by DW’s partner media.

The story was widely shared on Twitter and Facebook, including by experts in the field.

Techniques/technologies used:

The story was mainly an exercise in data gathering, and then reporting and investigating that data to reveal an important finding. Therefore, the data analysis was performed entirely in Google Spreadsheets. We also used Adobe Illustrator to produce charts for publication.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Using freedom of information laws and normal journalistic requests is a great way to obtain data – as long as you know what to ask for. This project started as a result of criticism of the EU reported by migration researchers, who said that slow progress on resettlement was holding up the evacuation of people trapped in detention camps in Libya.

The data collection exercise was more complicated as it involved interacting with government agencies in over 20 different jurisdictions and languages. Perseverance yielded a dataset that covered all of the main countries involved.

What can others learn from this project?

Politicians rarely put numbers on their commitments. So when they do, it is important that data journalists hold them to account for their promises.

Project links: