Global compassion towards refugees highlights need for G20 action

People are more compassionate than their governments when it comes to attitudes towards providing social and employment protections to refugees, including those from war-torn Syria, the latest ITUC Frontlines poll reveals.

Overall the majority of people from six G20 nations, surveyed in the latest International Trade Union Confederation poll agreed that their government should provide vulnerable people who have fled their own country with basic social protections and the right to work.

The poll revealed people from the global south displayed the most compassionate opinions compared to those from richer countries, among the thousands surveyed from six countries: China, Germany, India, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The results were further proof that G20 heads of state and governments meeting at the 2015 Summit in Antalya, Turkey must issue a G20 call for action with concrete policy actions to respond to the refugee crisis, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said.

“When you see the way Turkish people are opening their doors to Syrian refugees compared to the way the governments of wealthy nations are closing their borders, its obvious that leaders are lacking in compassion,” Ms Burrow said.

“The shocking situation facing the nearly 60 million people currently displaced from their homes is a truly global problem that demands urgent action from world leaders – the G20 must act immediately to increase funding for refugee needs, social protection and recognise refugees’ rights to work.”

Key findings of the Frontlines Poll included:

  • Majority support (63%) for governments providing vulnerable people who have fled their own country with social protections and the right to work.
  • Those from the global south display more compassionate opinions with, 72% in China and 80% in India in agreement.
  • Young people showed more compassion with 70% of those aged 34 and under in agreement.
  • Those with children (66%) were more likely than those without (60%) to agree.

Survey results from Turkey were particularly interesting given the nation is among the top three countries globally for hosting the largest number of refugees, along with Pakistan and Iran, Ms Burrow said.

Fifty-four per cent of people in Turkey agree that their country’s government should provide vulnerable people who have fled their own country with basic social protection and the right to work.

Seventy-seven per cent of people in Turkey think that it’s important that the G20 develop a common response and concrete measures to tackle the refugee crisis.

More than three-quarters of the Turkish population consider it to be important that the G20 act to stop the use of barrel bombs in Syria.

“Having visited several Turkish villages and seen firsthand how households are sharing what they can with Syrian refugees, I am humbled by their humanity,” Ms Burrow said.

“Right now the equivalent of almost the entire United Kingdom or Italy are displaced from their homes around the world and the most shocking aspect is that half the nearly 60 million forced to flee are children.”

“Countries like Germany and Sweden should be congratulated for their compassion, but it is appalling to see other wealthy countries like the UK, US and Australia talk of restrictive quotas and accepting just a few thousand of those most vulnerable.

“Worse still are those nations turning their backs completely by building walls, using military barriers and allowing people fleeing for their lives to drown.

“Meanwhile one in four refugees are being hosted in developing countries and it’s these nations that need a major boost in international aid to alleviate the suffering.”

The ITUC is petitioning the G20 to provide for refugees, including: increasing funding for refugee needs and host nations for social protection, recognising refugee’s rights to work and nations taking responsibility to resettle those forced to flee to neighbouring counties.

The social partners of the G20 including the Business 20, Civil Society 20, Labour 20 will issue a joint statement on concerns about refugees ahead of the G20 Summit.


Read the full ITUC Frontlines Poll on refugee
Read the ITUC Briefing on The Global Refugee Crisis

The L20 Summit takes place Friday 13 and Saturday 14 November at Limak Atlantis Hotel, Belek-Antalya.

Question: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the government of [country name shown] should provide vulnerable people who have fled from their own country with basic social protections and the right to work?

TOTAL China Germany India Turkey UK USA
Agree 63% 72% 63% 80% 54% 53% 55%
Disagree 31% 23% 31% 16% 43% 38% 34%
Don’t know 6 % 5% 6% 5% 2% 9% 11%

TNS Opinion carried out the fieldwork between the 1st and the 8th of October, 2015. In each of the 6 countries, approximately n=1000 respondents were interviewed.

The sample in each country has been selected by quotas to reflect national proportions in regards to age, gender and region.

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