Syrian refugees 'still welcome in post-Brexit Europe'

Syrian refugees 'still welcome in post-Brexit Europe'
Poll finds Europeans have sympathy for Syrian refugees arriving in their countries, despite rise in anti-immigration sentiment across the continent.
2 min read
16 September, 2016
Europeans still sympathise with Syrian refugees despite anti-immigration sentiment [Getty]

Europeans still sympathise with Syrian refugees coming to their countries in a post-Brexit era.

A poll has found that despite growing anti-immigration sentiment across the continent, more than three quarters of Europeans remain supportive of Syrians arriving in their countries.

Ireland topped the poll with 87 percent of people interviewed showing sympathy, while Slovakia ranked bottom.

"These findings show that Europeans have not lost their hearts," said David Miliband, CEO of aid organisation International Rescue Committee, which commissioned the poll.

The Ipsos MORI survey, which interviewed about 12,000 people across 12 EU countries, found that fewer than a third of respondents believed refugees were a risk to national security, despite a number of recent attacks targeting migrants.

The survey comes as Europe grapples with its worst migration crisis since the Second World War.

More than one million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere reached Europe last year.

Syrians made up 28 percent of the 2015 arrivals, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Of the people polled, 30 percent said one of their top three concerns was that refugees posed a security threat.

The survey was published as anti-immigration parties make gains in several EU countries - and amid a surge in hate crime in the UK.

Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that her liberal migrant policy contributed to a humiliating state election rout on September 4, where her Christian Democrats finished third behind the surging anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party.

Nationalist, anti-immigration parties are also leading opinion polls in France and the Netherlands ahead of general elections next year.

"At a time when toxic rhetoric has found its way into the political mainstream, there is a clear call here for governments to combine compassion with competence in responding to the refugee crisis," Miliband said in a statement.

"The refugee crisis is a human tragedy but it does not need to become a political disaster."