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Global support for refugees holding up – survey

25 June 20240 comments

Global support for offering refuge to people fleeing war or persecution is holding firm with significant willingness among people in host countries to find solutions to enabling refugees to access their human rights, according to a new study.

The Ipsos World Refugee Day survey found almost three quarters (73 per cent) of people across the world expressed support for offering refuge to those fleeing war or persecution.

It found support highest in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, with 93 per cent in Kenya and 92 per cent in Uganda.

“There is significant support or ‘openness’ among the public to finding solutions that enable refugees to access their rights,’ the survey found.

“While attitudes varied, half of those surveyed believe in refugees being able to integrate and, for example, access their full right to education, and nearly as many support their full access to healthcare and jobs (44 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively).

“Around three-quarters (77 per cent) expressed support, to a varying degree, for policies that allow refugee families to be reunited in the country of asylum.”

The survey found some major hosts countries, especially in the West, showed less positive sentiment.

It said this scepticism was linked to concerns about refugees’ ability to integrate and their overall contributions.

“While globally a third believe refugees will positively contribute to their country’s labour market, national economy, and culture, another third holds the opposite view,” the survey report said.

The survey also showed concerns about the impact of refugees on national security and public services, notably in countries with large refugee populations.

But despite these concerns and scepticism about refugees’ impact on host societies, many people are still taking action to support refugees, the report said.

“A third have shown support for refugees in several ways, including by donating or through social media posts. With 75 per cent of refugees living in low- and middle-income countries, almost two in five people surveyed (37 per cent) believe that international aid for countries hosting refugees is insufficient,” the report said.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos and UNHCR with 33,197 adult respondents across 52 countries for World Refugee Day 2024.

This year’s survey sought to capture public understanding of the term “refugees”. 

The legal definition of a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their own country due to war, violence, or persecution and seek safety in another country. 

Overall, 75 per cent of people correctly understand the term “refugee” to mean someone who has left their home country due to conflict, violence, or persecution or has sought and been granted asylum.

However, a significant portion also believed the term applied to those escaping natural disasters or seeking better economic opportunities.

The researchers said it was important to appreciate these different interpretations and levels of understanding when analysing the findings.

The research, released as part of UNHCR’s Hope Away from Home campaign, which aims to shed light on issues related to refugees and contribute to a better global understanding of public attitudes towards refugees.

The survey results come as the world faces unprecedented levels of forced displacement, with more than 120 million people currently forcibly displaced globally, as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, or events seriously disturbing public order.

This is a record figures driven new and long-lasting conflicts around the world.

Of the 120 million people, 43.3 million are refugees, with low- and middle-income countries hosting 75 per cent of them and least developed countries hosting 21 per cent of the total.

This includes 31.6 million refugees and people in a refugee-like situation and 5.8 million other people in need of international protection under UNHCR’s mandate, as well as six million Palestinian refugees under UNRWA’s mandate.

The World Refugee Day survey has been conducted annually since 2017.

Read more: Global Attitudes to Refugees | Ipsos