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Political response to refugee crisis is ‘badly out of touch’, says Amnesty

03 June 2016


Boats: two girls show their drawings about migrants during a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican last week

Boats: two girls show their drawings about migrants during a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican last week

MORE than 80 per cent of the British public would welcome refugees into their homes or communities, and 70 per cent think that the Government should be doing more to help those fleeing conflict abroad, new figures from Amnesty International suggest.

The human-rights organisation commissioned a survey — carried out by the consultancy firm GlobeScan — of 27,000 people, from 27 countries, to gauge public attitudes to the refugee crisis.

The results, published last week, suggest that the global population is in favour of welcoming refugees: 80 per cent of those questioned said that they would accept refugees in their country; 47 per cent would accept them in their city, town, or village; and 32 per cent in their neighbourhood.

Of the world population, however, only one in ten said that they would be willing to welcome refugees into their home; an average brought down by Russia, where just one per cent said that they would give a home to a refugee, followed by three per cent in Poland.

Russia was also listed as the least accepting country: just 18 per cent of all respondents said that they would welcome refugees into their communities or homes. China, Germany, and the UK ranked the highest with 85 per cent, 84 per cent, and 83 per cent respectively.

Just 17 per cent of the world population said that they would refuse entry to refugees.

Three-quarters or more of the populations in countries at the centre of the crisis, including Jordan (84 per cent), Germany (76 per cent), and Greece (74 per cent), wanted to see more government action.

The director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, said that the survey “reveals that anti-refugee political rhetoric is out of step with reality. 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.”

The survey results came alongside news that at least 1000 people have died or are missing and presumed dead after a series of fatal incidents in the Mediterranean over the past week. The International Organisation for Migration said that 62 people had been confirmed dead and another 971 had gone missing and were presumed dead in nine incidents between Libya and Italy since 25 May.

The secretary-general of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, agreed that the political response had been “badly out of touch” with public opinion.

At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul this week, Amnesty International called on world leaders to commit themselves to a new, permanent system for sharing the responsibility to host and assist refugees.

It comes as a report into the financial impact of refugees migrating to Europe suggested that the cost of their acceptance could be repaid almost twice over in five years, through the creation of jobs, and a boost in public finances.

Refugees will increase public debt by £54 billion to 2020, a report by the Tent Foundation, an NGO, and senior LSE Visiting Fellow, Philippe Legrain, states; but they will also contribute to a GDP of about £97 billion in this time.

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