Picture of refugees on ship isn’t from WWII

21 October 2021
What was claimed

A photo shows thousands of Europeans fleeing to North Africa during the Second World War.

Our verdict

This is not true. The picture was actually taken in 1991, and shows Albanian people boarding a ship bound for Italy after the collapse of the Communist regime.

A post on Facebook claims to show a ship full of European refugees fleeing to North Africa during the Second World War. 

This is not true. The picture featured in the post was actually taken in 1991, and shows thousands of Albanian people boarding Vlora, a cargo ship bound for Italy, after the collapse of the Communist regime in the country. 

An image search for “Vlora ship” online reveals a number of colour photographs of the same scene, labelled correctly as showing the events of August 1991. 

Furthermore, Vlora was not launched until well after the end of the Second World War, in 1960

The pictures taken in 1991 have been used a number of times online in the past to spread misinformation about refugees. For example, it has been wrongly claimed that the picture was taken in 2015 and shows refugees fleeing Libya. 

It is true that thousands of European refugees were settled in camps in Egypt, as well as Palestine and Syria, during the Second World War, via a British-led scheme known as the Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration. However, the picture on Facebook does not show this effort. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because it was not taken during the Second World War, and does not show Europeans fleeing to North Africa.

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