Australians accepting of refugees: survey

A global survey has found the majority of Australians agree that refugees should be accepted into the country, Amnesty International says.

Protesters march during a refugee rally in Melbourne

A survey has found 80% of Australians agree that refugees should be accepted into the country. (AAP)

Around four in five Australians agree that refugees fleeing war or persecution should be able to take refuge in the country, a global survey has found.

Australia is also the fifth-highest country willing to accept refugees, according to a survey commissioned by Amnesty International which examined 27 countries.

China was the most welcoming country when it came to refugees, with one in 10 respondents saying they would let refugees stay in their home.


Nearly half of all Chinese surveyed offered hospitality in their homes for refugees.

The group's so-called Refugee Welcome Index comes a day after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton drew fire for claiming an expanded humanitarian intake of refugees would see many "illiterate and innumerate" people taking Australian jobs.

The federal government should reconsider its current refugee intake policy in light of the research, Amnesty International refugee coordinator Graham Thom said in a statement on Thursday.

"Australia has a long history of welcoming refugees and overwhelming approval of the decision to accept 12,000 refugees is testament to that," Dr Thom said.

"Amnesty continues to call on the government to increase the annual humanitarian intake to at least 30,000, prioritising UNHCR-approved refugees and for the resettlement of the 12,000 refugees to be completed fairly and efficiently."

'Governments have to listen'

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty told Reuters TV on Thursday the survey showed that most government responses to the refugee crisis were out of step with public opinion.

"[Citizens are] ready to reach out, and governments have to listen to the majority of the voices and not just a noisy few," he said.

"We are facing a leadership crisis on this issue. We don't have many people like Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of
Germany, who stood up in the face of some opposition to say this is an international human rights obligation."

The index was based on a global survey of 27,000 people around the world.

It found 80 per cent of people would accept refugees in their country, but only 32 per cent would want them in their neighbourhood.

However, 17 per cent of respondents said they should not be allowed into their country at all.

As the least welcoming country, 61 per cent of Russians surveyed said they would not let refugees in.

Poland, Hungary and other former communist east European states say immigration, especially from the Muslim cultures of the Middle East, would disrupt their homogeneous societies.

Although 86 per cent of Chinese participants agreed that governments should do more to help, the Chinese government remains reluctant to resettle refugees fleeing wars or persecution.

According to recent UN refugee agency (UNHCR) data, neither China, Russia or any Gulf states have resettled Syrian refugees since the war began.

China came in as the number one country willing to take in refugees, followed by Germany, the UK and Canada.

The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit is being held in Istanbul next week as the number of people who have been forced from their homes globally hits record levels.

Aid agencies and campaigners will ask governments to commit to tackling forced displacement in a new way - that meets the immediate needs of the world's displaced, and builds their resilience and self-reliance.

UNHCR has said the number of people forcibly displaced worldwide was likely to have "far surpassed" a record 60 million in 2015, including 20 million refugees, driven by the Syrian war and other drawn-out conflicts.

Refugees Welcome Index

1. China

2. Germany

3. UK

4. Canada

5. Australia

6. Spain

7. Greece

8. Jordan

9. USA

10. Chile

Source: Amnesty International

4 min read
Published 19 May 2016 at 10:42am
Source: AAP, Reuters