NEWS

Migration Crisis Survey Exposes 'Gulf' Between British Public Opinion And Fact

'This should weigh heavily on all of us.'

22/04/2016 10:33
ANDREJ ISAKOVIC via Getty Images

A shocking new report has laid bare the "gulf" between public opinion and facts about Syria's refugee crisis.

Nearly five million Syrians have been misplaced by the civil war, yet Britons believe the number to be around 300,000, the study says - 16 times fewer than official figures suggest.

The report also found most people believed the UK had accepted 10,000 Syrian refugees - almost double the latest official Government figure of 5,500.

The Humanitarian Index, which compared public opinion in six nations, including Britain and Germany, revealed a huge underestimation of the scale of the crisis and an exaggerated perception of own governments’ response in terms of accepting refugees.

Yui Mok/PA Wire
A group of Brits wait at King's Cross Station in London to welcome Syrian refugees to the country

It comes as the Government announced a new resettlement scheme to accept as many as 3,000 vulnerable children refugees on Thursday. Previously Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to take a total of 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

In the UK, 42% of Brits felt the country had “taken on too many refugees”, compared with 55% of Germans. Germany has accepted 105,000 Syrian refugees since 2011.

Data from the survey also found Britons have more faith in foreign leaders Angela Merkel and Barack Obama to sort the crisis than in their own prime minister.

Just 39% of those surveyed in the UK said David Cameron was the most capable world leader to deal with the crisis.

PA/PA Wire
Most Brits did not think Cameron was the most capable world leader to deal with the crisis

Vartan Gregorian, co-founder of the Aurora Prize, called for the public to be "better informed" on the facts surrounding refugees.

He said: "The gulf between the public's understanding of the refugee crisis and reality should weigh heavily on all of us.

"Underestimating the scale of the problem means that the public also underestimates the investment required to alleviate the crisis. A better-informed public would be in a position to compel governments to act."

Angela Balakrishnan, spokeswoman for the Government’s international development department, said: "Our support is focused in the region to help give Syrians what they want – the chance to continue their lives close to their own homes.

Hassan Ammar/AP
Millions of Syrian refugees are living in camps in parts of Europe and on the continent's border with Asia

"We have also committed to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees and granted asylum or other forms of leave to over 5,500 Syrian nationals and dependants through normal asylum procedures since the crisis began in 2011.

"The UK’s aid budget is tackling the root causes of global problems like migration by reducing poverty, building stability and security, creating jobs and cracking down on corruption and human rights abuses.”

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