UK public ranked among most welcoming in the world to refugees, according to Amnesty International

Tim Farron said: 'This poll reiterates what most of us already knew – that Britons were generous and open-hearted'

Ashley Cowburn@ashcowburn
Thursday 19 May 2016 10:08
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Demonstrators hold banners in support of refugees as they march through central London on March 19
Demonstrators hold banners in support of refugees as they march through central London on March 19

British people have been ranked among the most welcoming in the world to refugees, according to a global survey commissioned by leading human rights organisation Amnesty International.

The findings, which suggest anti-refugee political rhetoric is “out of kilter” with public opinion, show that people in China, Germany and the UK are the most willing to let those fleeing war and persecution live in their countries, towns, neighbourhoods and homes.

Residents of Russia, Indonesia and Thailand were considered the least welcoming out of 27 countries in the Refugees Welcome Index, which measured public levels of acceptance of refugees on a sliding scale. More than 27,000 people took part in the survey.

According to Amnesty, the vast majority of people in the UK – or 87 per cent – said they would welcome refugees fleeing war and persecution into the country.

The organisation adds that Britons are also the second-most willing worldwide to let refugees into their homes at 29 per cent. Around 47 per cent said they would accept refugees into their neighbourhood.

Around 70 per cent of respondents claimed that the UK government should be doing more to help refugees.

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, told The Independent: "The Government have responded to the refugee crisis via a lens of pure political calculation. Every step of the way they’ve done the very least they can get away with.

"This poll reiterates what most of us already knew – that Britons were generous and open-hearted. The public will not forget the people languishing in camps across Europe and will not let the Government ignore them, instead of following public opinion Cameron should lead it.”

(Statista

The chart above by Statista for The Independent shows how Amnesty ranked countries in one category: would they personally accept people fleeing war and persecution into the country?

On a global scale, Amnesty found that one person in ten would be prepared to take refugees into their homes. In Germany, a country that gave refuge to over one million asylum seekers last year, almost every respondent – or 96 per cent – said they would welcome refugees in their country.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Shalil Shetty, said: “The figures speak for themselves”.

“People are ready to make refugees welcome, but governments’ inhumane responses to the refugee crisis are badly out of touch with the views of their own citizens.”

Mr Shetty added there was “a general feeling that the West has not delivered” in helping refugees. “I would expect that the Chinese population is sending a message,, you know, we would welcome them,” he told AFP news agency.

"Now of course, this doesn't mean that China has taken many refugees so it's time for the government to do something about it."

“The Refugees Welcome Index exposes the shameful way governments have played short term politics with the lives of people fleeing war and repression. Governments must heed these results, which clearly show the vast majority of people ready and willing to make refugees welcome in their country.

“Governments cannot allow their response to the refugee crisis to be held hostage by headlines. Too often they use xenophobic anti-refugee rhetoric to chase approval ratings. This survey suggests they are not listening to the silent majority of welcoming citizens who take the refugee crisis personally.”

In response the refugee crisis that has been fuelled in part by years of fighting of war-ravaged Syria, Amnesty is now calling on governments to resettle 1.2 million refugees by the end of 2017.

World leaders and delegates are expected to make commitments to resettle more refugees next week at the UN-convened world humanitarian summit in Istanbul next week.

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