BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 23 May '16

New poll shows political rhetoric is ‘out of step’: there’s overwhelming support in the UK for refugees

More than three-quarters of the British public would accept refugees in their neighbourhood or home, according to a new Amnesty International survey that shows anti-refugee political rhetoric is ‘out of step’ with public opinion.

UK ranked 3rd

The survey, carried out by internationally renowned consultancy GlobeScan, polled more than 27,000 people across 27 countries to gauge public attitudes towards refugees. It also found that 70% of British people think the UK government should do more to help those fleeing war and persecution.

The results from the majority of countries in the survey show that most people are ready and willing to accept refugees. Globally, two out of three people think that their governments should do more to help refugees fleeing war and persecution, and 80% would accept refugees in their country, city, neighbourhood or home.

GlobeScan has ranked public opinion in order of the countries most accepting of refugees – the UK comes third after China and Germany.

The survey is published ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23-24 May. Amnesty is calling on governments to commit to a new, permanent system for sharing the responsibility to host and assist refugees.

‘The results show that the British public is overwhelmingly supportive of refugees and reflect what we are seeing in communities up and down the country. Local organisations are campaigning for their councils to take in refugee families, grassroots groups are collecting supplies for Calais or organising fundraising comedy or music nights and individuals have been heading as far as Greece to volunteer in refugee camps.’

KATE ALLEN
Director of Amnesty International UK

The results

The results of the survey show that in the UK and across the world, people are overwhelmingly in favour of helping refugees.

Globally, one person in 10 would take refugees into their home: the number rises to 46% in China, 29% in the UK and 20% in Greece – but was as low as 1% in Russia and 3% in Poland.

Globally, 32% said they would accept refugees in their neighbourhood, 47% in their city/town/village and 80% in their country.

In 20 of the 27 countries, more than 75% of respondents said they would let refugees in their country.

Globally, only 17% said they would refuse refugees entry to their country. Only in one country, Russia, did more than a third of people say they would deny them access (61%).

We want governments to act

The survey also asked two other questions about access to asylum and current refugee policies.

73% of people globally agreed that people fleeing war or persecution should be able to take refuge in other countries.

Support for access to asylum is particularly strong in Spain (78% strongly agree), Germany (69% strongly agree) and Greece (64% strongly agree).

66% of people said their governments should do more to help refugees.

‘The survey reveals that anti-refugee political rhetoric is out of step with reality. The UK government must go to the World Humanitarian Summit and commit to playing its part in dealing with the refugee crisis, and it can do so confident that British citizens are ready and willing to welcome refugees, not only into the country, but also into their neighbourhoods and even their homes.’

KATE ALLEN
Director of Amnesty International UK

In several countries at the heart of the refugee crisis, three-quarters or more still want their governments to do more, including Germany (76%), Greece (74%) and Jordan (84%).

The least support for more government action came from Russia (26%), Thailand (29%) and India (41%).

Sharing responsibility

To respond to the global refugee crisis, Amnesty International is calling on governments to resettle 1.2 million refugees by the end of 2017. That is far more than the 100,000 per year governments are currently taking annually, but less than a tenth of the 19.5 million refugees in the world today.

Amnesty International is also calling for governments at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23-24 May to commit to a new, permanent system for sharing the responsibility to host and assist refugees. This ‘Global Compact on responsibility-sharing’ – already proposed by the UN on 9 May – would then be adopted at a high-level UN summit of world leaders on 19 September.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening both summits to address the biggest humanitarian and refugee crises in 70 years.

Governments at the World Humanitarian Summit must also address the $15 billion shortfall in humanitarian funding highlighted by the UN at the start of 2016, putting forward more money to support both refugees and the countries hosting large numbers of refugees.

Click here to read the full results of the Amnesty International survey.