A survey reveals an increase in those who feel the government should do more to help refugees fleeing war and persecution and enable more legal immigrants to become British citizens.
The annual Aurora Humanitarian Index public opinion study shows that more than half (52 per cent) of the UK population feels that refugees deserve more support, and 38 per cent are regretful that the country is not doing enough to help, up 11 points from last year.
It also shows that nearly half (47 per cent) of British people think that legally established immigrants should be able to become UK citizens, up 10 points from 2017.
British people are becoming more sympathetic towards refugees and migrants, according the study. British people are becoming more sympathetic towards refugees and migrants, according to a new study.
Speculating on why the public is becoming more sympathetic towards refugees and immigrants, Dr Omar Khan, director of race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, said "Those who are more neutral have perhaps seen the rise in xenophobia and racism and started to think maybe we’ve gone too far. The media is not putting out quite as many headlines about migrant scroungers, which has also definitely influenced public opinion...Policymakers always cite public opinion for why they want to be tough on immigration, but really it’s pretty clear that in a lot of cases it’s just justifying a policy they want to pursue anyway."
Misperceptions also remain when it comes to understanding refugees. Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, said: “It’s heartening that nationalistic attitudes towards refugees is in decline in the UK. “However, what is worrying is that this is the third year that the Humanitarian Index has revealed an alarming level of ignorance about the realities of the global refugee crisis.
65 per cent of people in the UK claim there are too many humanitarian crises to keep up with today, and are still largely misinformed on the reality of the refugee crisis.
96% of people in the UK don’t know or underestimate the fact that the vast majority of displaced people are hosted by developing countries rather than the West, and are most likely to think that Germany, the UK and Italy have accepted the highest number of refugees over the last decade. The reality, according to the UNHCR, is that the UK was hosting 118,000 refugees at the end of 2016 compared to 2,869,421 for Turkey.
Most people in the UK think only 32 per cent of refugees are under the age of 18, yet in reality 52 per cent of the total global refugee population are children. Only a little over a third (38 per cent) view the protection of children, and one-quarter (25 per cent) view the protection of women, as pressing humanitarian issues.
Almost half of British people regard risk of war as the most pressing global humanitarian challenge facing humanity at present, compared to just 33 per cent in 2017.