Most Britons welcome refugees, says poll

Two-thirds of Britons are sympathetic to refugees coming to the country, a survey has found.

The poll for the Refugee Council found that 74 per cent of women and 61 per cent of men were sympathetic to those fleeing persecution.

But while 44 per cent believed 100,000 or more refugees were accepted by the UK in 2009, the real number was 4,175.

The research also revealed significant misunderstanding around what a refugee is. Many respondents confused refugees with economic migrants from Poland and Eastern Europe.

The vast majority of Britons (84 per cent) were "proud to be British" while 82per cent believed that protecting the most vulnerable was a core British value.

2011 marks the 60th anniversary of UN Convention for Refugees, which British lawyers played a key role in drafting.

Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said: "British soldiers gave up their lives in World War II fighting to build a better world and protect others from persecution.

"It is a legacy that all British people should be proud of, and should serve to remind us that Britain still has an important role to play in offering safety to those forced to flee their homes to escape violence, torture and war in countries around the world today.

"How encouraging that, 60 years after the UN Convention for Refugees was created so many people remain sympathetic to refugees coming here, and that the majority believe protecting the most vulnerable is an intrinsic part of being British."