A new Ipsos global study, carried out to mark World Refugee Day 2021, paints a mixed picture of attitudes towards refugees. While there is majority support on average across the countries surveyed for the right to seek refuge from war or persecution in principle, in practice people are reluctant to accept more refugees into their country. There is also widespread scepticism over whether those seeking refuge are genuine. Across 28 countries surveyed, in no country is there a majority in favour of increasing the number of refugees allowed into their country following the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak, and there is little support for greater government spending on refugees around the world.
The survey, which was conducted online with over 19,000 adults aged under 74 in 28 countries on Ipsos Global Advisor online platform, shows that:
There is strong support for people to have the right to seek refuge from war and persecution in other countries, including in their own country
- The majority of people in all countries surveyed and 70% of people on average across the 28 countries agree with the principle of seeking refuge from war and persecution. Agreement is highest in Argentina (79%) and Italy (79%), and lowest in South Korea (51%). South Korea is the only country in which fewer than 60% of people agree with this principle.
People are divided as to whether their country should accept refugees at this time
- On average, half of respondents across the countries surveyed (50%) agree that their country should close its border to refugees entirely, while four in ten (43%) disagree. Respondents in Malaysia (82%), Turkey (75%) and India (69%) are most likely to support closing borders to refugees, while those in Poland (34%), Japan (38%), the United States (41%) and Argentina (41%) are the least supportive of a closed border policy.
- Views are also split on whether countries should be more or less open to accepting refugees than before the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak or whether things should stay the same. On average across the 28 countries, just one in seven (14%) think countries should be more open to accepting more refugees and a third (33%) think they should stay the same as they were before the pandemic. On the other hand, 42% of people want their country to be less open to accepting refugees than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
- People in India, Poland and Saudi Arabia are most likely to say that their country should be more open to accepting refugees. In contrast, people in Turkey, Malaysia and Colombia are least open to accepting refugees.
People are reluctant to see their governments increase spending to support refugees around the world
- When asked directly about the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, across the 28 countries over a third on average (37%) say their government should decrease the amount it spends on support for refugees around the world due to the pandemic. A similar proportion (36%) think their country should keep spending the same as before the outbreak. Just one in seven (14%) think their country should increase the amount it spends on refugees around the world.
- People in India (27%) and Saudi Arabia (20%) are most likely to support increased spending by their governments, whereas people in Turkey (60%) and Colombia (54%) are most likely to say that spending should be decreased.
There is widespread scepticism about whether refugees coming to their country are genuine and people are divided as to whether refugees will successfully integrate into their society
- Six in 10 people (62%) on average across the countries surveyed think that most foreigners entering their country as refugees are not genuine refugees and are coming to their country for economic reasons or to take advantage of welfare services. Around a half or more in every country agree that this is the case. Scepticism about the motives of people seeking refuge is highest in Turkey (81%), Malaysia (76%) and Russia (75%) and lowest in the United States (49%).
- Close to half on average across the 28 countries (47%) agree that refugees will integrate successfully into their new societies, while 44% disagree.
- People in Saudi Arabia (76%), India (68%) and Argentina (60%) are the most positive about refugee integration, while respondents in South Korea (29%), France (25%) and Japan (23%) are the least likely to agree that refugees will integrate successfully.