Europe is faced with the worst refugee crisis since the World War II. Refugees are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, to reach Europe. The influx of asylum seekers into Europe has sparked pro-and anti-refugee sentiments across the continent.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned against demonizing refugees, underlining the importance of applying law to all. The UNHCR called for the protection of people escaping persecution or violence.
"Like in any population, there are people who are criminals and the law should be applied to them. Nobody is above the law, whether you are a refugee or not," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said. "But we should not forget that the vast majority of refugees are law-abiding and we should not demonize them or see them all as criminals and terrorists because that's not the case," he added.
More than 16,000 people in 22 countries, including Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia, have participated in the survey of attitudes towards refugees and immigration. The poll showed that 60 percent of people thought that extremists were posing as refugees, while around 40 percent called for the closure of their borders to refugees, with support for such a move highest in Turkey, India and Hungary.
Head of Ipsos MORI's Social Research Institute Bobby Duffy said in a statement that attitudes towards refugees have not changed much since 2011. "There has not been a wholesale negative shift in attitudes... across the 22 (countries) as a whole, attitudes have remained fairly stable over the last five years," Duffy said.