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05/09/2015 11:52 BST | Updated 05/09/2015 13:59 BST

14 Signs Compassion Is Winning In Our Attitudes Towards People Migrating To Europe

This week marked a turning point for public attitudes to the millions of people migrating across Europe from the Middle East and North Africa.

The last seven days have shown clear evidence of the overwhelming challenges posed by record numbers of migrants - most of them desperate refugees - as well as the ugly reactions from those unwilling to welcome them.

But despite chaos at Calais,Hungarian police blocking crowds from boarding trains to reach other countries, and violent attacks on refugee shelters in Germany, something is shifting.

In the last week, The Huffington Post can reveal, negative sentiment around the term 'migrants' on Twitter has declined sharply. In August, 9% of tweets about migrants were negative, according to social media agency We Are Social. But in the week from 26 August and 1 September, that figure fell to just 2%.

"Negativity directed towards 'migrants' has decreased significantly this week compared to August and previous weeks," the agency told HuffPost UK, "indicating that strong opinions and criticism of migrants has decreased over time. Much of this discussion has concerned the use of the word 'migrant' with many mentions on Twitter citing this term as being 'politically loaded' and unfair."

migrants smiling

Save the Children's members help migrating people rescued by the Royal Navy ship HMS Bulwark in June

"However, positivity has also decreased, with the proportion of neutral comments increasing. This indicates that while users are becoming more empathetic towards the migrant crisis, they may be less willing to publicly express an opinion as the debate becomes more heated. "

Usage of the words 'migrant' and 'refugee' on Twitter have soared over the past three weeks, with the use of "refugee" more than tripling to 15,617 mentions compared to the same period two weeks before, while mentions of the 'migrant' doubled to 18,656.

The growing movement of people prepared to welcome and support refugees suggests our understanding of the 'migrant crisis' has begun focus more on empathy, compassion for the thousands who are escaping devastation in countries like Syria and Afghanistan.

David Miliband this week referred to the situation as a "misnamed crisis", saying the word 'refugee' should be used rather than 'migrant', while Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper called for every town and city to recapture the WWII spirit of duty and kindness by taking in ten families fleeing war-torn countries.

Meanwhile, the horror for those who die in their attempts to reach safety was laid bare by startling new figures on fatalities in the Mediterranean, and the appalling fate of the people found dead in an abandoned lorry in Austria.

And the the widely-published picture of Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian refugee found drowned on the shores of Turkey, shocked the world and motivated thousands of Brits to sign a petition demanding government action to help more victims.

As the humanitarian side of the issue comes to the surface, here are 14 signs that perceptions in the UK and Europe are shifting towards compassion:

13 signs attitudes to migrants have reached a turning point

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