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A first-of-its-kind new global survey shows that anti-refugee rhetoric is out of step with public opinion. The new Refugees Welcome Index, based on a global survey of more than 27,000 people carried out by the internationally renowned strategy consultancy GlobeScan and commissioned by Amnesty International, ranks 27 countries based on people’s willingness to let refugees live in their countries, towns, neighborhoods, and homes.

In the United States, the survey found:

  • The vast majority of people in the U.S. (71%) would let refugees into the country. 15% of Americans are willing to make refugees welcome in their own homes. On top of that, another 27% said they would accept refugees into their neighborhood.
  • 73% of Americans said people should be able to take refuge in other countries to escape war and persecution.
  • 63% of Americans said the U.S. government should do more to help refugees.
  • Just 22% of Americans said the U.S. should refuse refugees entry into the country.

The public sentiment is in direct conflict with policies being set or advocated for by officials and public figures in the United States. U.S. governors of 13 states have said they would refuse to accept resettled refugees, and, to date, at least 16 states have tried by legislation or executive order to block or limit refugee resettlement, according to Amnesty International USA.

“Americans feel compassion and concern for refugees, and they do not want to turn their backs on people fleeing war and horrific violence. This new data sends a clear message to officials in the U.S. to stop the fear-mongering and to do more to help vulnerable refugees,” said Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA’s interim executive director.  “Those who want to block refugees from coming into the U.S. are completely out of step with the American people.”

Right now, only a fraction – one percent – of the global refugee population is even considered for candidacy for resettlement in the U.S.Amnesty International USA is calling on President Obama to increase the number of refugees the U.S. accepts annually and to push Congress to provide the appropriations necessary to ensure that resettled refugees, and refugees globally, have the support they need.

“The U.S. can and must do more,” said Huang. “President Obama is already falling short of his own resettlement goals, and refugees are running out of time. These people are fleeing horrific human right abuses, and we have an obligation to protect them. It’s time to live up to our responsibilities and do more – not less – for refugees.”

Refugees Welcome Indexmeasures levels of acceptance for first time

The Refugees Welcome Index was prepared by asking 27,000 people in 27 countries how closely they would accept refugees on a sliding scale: in their home, their neighborhood, their city/town/village, or in their country – or if they would refuse them entry to the country altogether.

The results show people willing to go to astonishing lengths to make refugees welcome:

  • 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 neighborhood, 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%).
  • More than half of respondents in Germany (57%) said they would accept refugees in their neighborhood, and a further one in 10 would welcome them into their home.
  • Almost all Germans (96%) said they would accept refugees into their country, with only 3% saying they would refuse them entry.

People support access to asylum, want governments to act

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

Access to asylum:

  • 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). 

Governments should do more to help refugees:

 

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

“We did not expect to see such strong levels of solidarity with refugees, but the results reflect the inspiring human compassion people feel to those fleeing war,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

“People seem to be more committed to principles set down in international law than many of their governments, who are increasingly tearing up or ignoring commitments that have stood for 65 years.”

Background: How the Refugees Welcome Index was developed

The Refugees Welcome Index ranks countries on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 = all respondents would refuse refugees entry to the country and 100 = all respondents would accept refugees into their neighborhood or home. Out of the 27 countries included, the median score was 52 with the U.S. scoring 60 – a sign that Americans are clearly prepared to aide refugees.

The Index is calculated by giving countries a score based on the average of responses to the question, "How closely would you personally accept people fleeing war or persecution?" Responses were scaled to 100 as follows: 0 = ‘I would refuse them entry to my country’; 33 = ‘I would accept them in my country’; 67 = ‘In my city/town/village’; and 100 = ‘In my neighborhood or household’.

“We designed the survey and Index to reflect the complexity of the refugee issue. People are grappling with multiple political and emotional arguments and we wanted to get their views as humans responding to a humanitarian crisis,” said Caroline Holme, Director at GlobeScan.

The world is experiencing the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Armed conflict and persecution have forced a record 60 million people to flee their homes in search of safety, and right now, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, one in every 122 people on earth is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.Over 12 million Syrians— more than half the population—are currently displaced. Amnesty International researchers have been monitoring the abuses refugees have been subjected to as they attempt to flee by land or by sea. They are facing deplorable and dangerous conditions in camps, chaos at borders, and thousands upon thousands of desperate people kept in limbo awaiting a diplomatic solution that seems illusive. 

ANNEX

Refugees Welcome Index

Rank

Country

 Score

1

China

85

2

Germany

84

3

UK

83

4

Canada

76

5

Australia

73

6

Spain

71

7

Greece

65

8

Jordan

61

9

USA

60

10

Chile

59

11

South Korea

59

12

India

59

13

France

56

14

Ghana

52

15

Pakistan

51

16

Mexico

50

17

Lebanon

50

18

Brazil

49

19

Argentina

48

20

South Africa

44

21

Nigeria

41

22

Turkey

39

23

Kenya

38

24

Poland

36

25

Thailand

33

26

Indonesia

32

27

Russia

18

Note: Typically, differences between countries of 5 points or above are statistically significant

About GlobeScan

GlobeScan is a strategy consultancy specializing in stakeholder intelligence and engagement in the areas of reputation, sustainability and purpose. We help global companies, multilateral organizations and international NGOs build stronger, more trusting relationships with their stakeholders to deliver long-term success. 

GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact.  Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, San Francisco, Cape Town, São Paulo and Hong Kong.

For more information, please visit www.GlobeScan.com

 

  • The vast majority of people in the U.S. (71%) would let refugees into the country. 15% of Americans are willing to make refugees welcome in their own homes. On top of that, another 27% said they would accept refugees into their neighborhood.
  • 73% of Americans said people should be able to take refuge in other countries to escape war and persecution.
  • 63% of Americans said the U.S. government should do more to help refugees.
  • Just 22% of Americans said the U.S. should refuse refugees entry into the country.

    • 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 neighborhood, 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%).
    • More than half of respondents in Germany (57%) said they would accept refugees in their neighborhood, and a further one in 10 would welcome them into their home.
    • Almost all Germans (96%) said they would accept refugees into their country, with only 3% saying they would refuse them entry.
    • 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.
    • 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%).