Why you should care
Because apparently, some policies and public opinion are out of whack.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau loves to go on TV and talk about how much his half of North America digs refugees. We’re not accusing the world’s most good-looking do-gooder of lying, of course. But the new Refugees Welcome Index, a survey by Amnesty International in collaboration with consultancy GlobeScan, suggests that someone else’s welcome mat is bigger than Trudeau’s.
China ranks as the most welcoming country when it comes to public acceptance of refugees.
In China, which hosts just over 300,000 refugees, 94 percent would welcome refugees into the country, while 46 percent would open up their homes. This openness “contrasts somewhat sharply” with the policies of the government, says Audrey Gaughran, director of global issues at Amnesty International. At this point, China has resettled fewer than 30 Syrian refugees. Overall, the survey of 27,000 people from 27 countries, which asked people about their attitudes toward welcoming refugees into their countries, neighborhoods and homes, found a surprising level of support for refugees: One in 10 people would welcome refugees into their own homes.
Even the U.S. scores in the top 10, despite the anti-refugee rhetoric that has dominated headlines. According to Amnesty International, this suggests a disconnect between policies and public perception in some places. “Maybe a small group of negative voices are shouting more loudly than a majority that feels quite strongly about supporting refugees,” Gaughran says. The difference in public perceptions and government policy is “completely consistent with what we’re seeing across the U.S.,” says Stacie Blake, a director with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. The organization has seen nearly double the amount of donations and volunteers as in years past, even in states where governors are calling for a ban on Syrian refugees.
To be sure, it’s easy for respondents to say they’d welcome refugees. But would their actions follow suit? Sometimes it simply isn’t feasible, says Blake. For example, an American serving overseas for two years recently offered up his home to refugees. It turned out that it was far from public transportation and the resources the refugees needed to make a successful transition. And back in China, remember that one-child policy? China has an infamous history of population control, so keeping the door shut on foreigners may be out of step with public opinion, but it’s totally in line with long-term government policy.
But a welcoming attitude appears to be especially high in countries that have seen a large influx of refugees recently, such as Germany, Greece and Jordan. In Greece, where 86 percent of people welcome refugees, Gaughran says her colleagues witnessed “incredible human generosity,” including homeless people helping newly arrived refugees. Germans come in just behind the Chinese in the index, with 96 percent of Germans favoring allowing refugees into their country. At the bottom of the list? Russia — the only country where more than a third wouldn’t welcome refugees altogether. не круто!
Amnesty International will call on the world’s governments to resettle 1.2 million refugees by the end of 2017 at next week’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. With 66 percent of respondents across 27 countries wanting their governments to do more for the world’s homeless, the mandate seems clear. But even if the world acts, nine-tenths of the world’s 19.5 million refugees will still be in search of a home.