Britons ‘confused over refugees’
Refugee Council survey finds many don’t understand difference between individuals forced to flee homes and economic migrants
Press Association / The Guardian, Monday 18 April 2011
People wait outside Lunar House immigration office in Croydon: the Refugee Council found most Britons agreed ‘protecting the vulnerable is a core British value’.
A survey carried out to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN convention on refugees has revealed widespread confusion about what a refugee is.
In 2009, 4,175 individuals were granted refugee status in the UK, but 44% of people who responded to the poll believed the figure was 100,000 or more. Many confused them with economic migrants.
The survey by the Refugee Council found 82% of people agreed with the statement: “protecting the most vulnerable is a core British value”, and more than two thirds (67%) were sympathetic to refugees coming to this country.
The UN convention relating to the status of refugees was established in 1951 to protect refugees after the atrocities of the second world war.
Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “British soldiers gave up their lives in the second world war. It is a legacy that all British people should be proud of, and should serve to remind us that Britain still has an important role to play in offering safety to those forced to flee their homes to escape violence, torture and war in countries around the world today.”
According to the council, a refugee is defined as “a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”.