May 10, 2018

New Global Study Reveals Increased Fear of War and Crisis Overload

Aurora Humanitarian Index shows most are misinformed on the scale of the refugee crisis and plight of women and children largely ignored. However, confidence in world leaders and NGOs to address the crisis increases

The third annual Aurora Humanitarian Index today reveals that over half (52%) of people regard risk of war as the most pressing global humanitarian challenge facing humanity right now, compared to just 41% in 2017.  At 58%, terrorism remains people’s greatest humanitarian concern today, although this is down five points from last year.

At a time of such uncertainty and fear, many are experiencing crisis overload with 61% of people saying there are too many humanitarian crises to keep up with in the world today.

Results from the annual public opinion study, which surveyed nearly 11,000 people in 12 countries, also reveals that people continue to get it wrong when it comes to the countries most affected and assume that developed countries are the ones hosting most refugees.  97% of people don’t know or underestimate the fact that the vast majority of displaced people are hosted by developing countries rather than the West. 

Misperceptions also remain when it comes to understanding refugees themselves.  Most people think that under a third (32%) of refugees are under the age of 18.  The reality is that 51% of the total global refugee population are children.  A striking finding this year showed that only a little over one third (36%) view the protection of children, and one-quarter (24%) view the protection of women, as pressing humanitarian issues.

Continuing a theme from last year, many countries still think refugees pose a threat to their culture and overall, people do not recognize the true value that refugees can bring to their country and their economy.

A bright spot in the 2018 Index showed that there is a resurgence of faith in world leaders to address the refugee crisis with Angela Merkel (up 13 points to 46%), Donald Trump (up 10 points to 40%), Vladimir Putin (up 11 points to 35%) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (up 9 points to 31%) all gaining ground from last year’s results.  Business leaders including Bill Gates (41%) and Mark Zuckerberg (35%) are also recognized as being capable to address the refugee crisis.

Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, said: “It’s concerning that this is the third year that the Humanitarian Index has revealed such levels of disconnect about the realities of the global refugee crisis.  It’s critical that people remain informed on the nature and scale of the problem otherwise apathy and complacency get in the way of action on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable.”

Encouragingly, 65% of people agree that many of the world’s humanitarian challenges would be worse were it not for the efforts of NGOs.  More specifically, respondents felt international NGOs were best suited to raise awareness of issues and engage the support of governments while local and grassroots NGOs are better placed to deliver on the ground support.

“The research reinforces the strategic focus of the Aurora Prize to raise awareness and provide support to those on the ground putting themselves at risk to help those in the greatest need as local humanitarian leaders,” said Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.  “The structure of the Prize serves as a means to amplify and expand the work of the Humanitarians being recognized and creates a cycle of giving around the concept of Gratitude in Action.”

Key findings from the 2018 Aurora Humanitarian Index, commissioned by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, a non-profit organization committed to building a global humanitarian movement to empower modern-day saviors, include:

 

  • Terrorism still dominates as the most pressing global humanitarian challenge facing humanity right now:
    • 58% of people see terrorism as the most pressing global humanitarian challenge facing humanity right now, compared to 63% in 2017
    • 52% of people regard the threat of war as the most pressing global humanitarian challenge, compared to 41% in 2017
    • Forced migration is down 8 points at 34% as a pressing humanitarian challenge this year
    • Only 36% of people think the protection of children and only 24% think the protection of women are the most pressing global humanitarian challenges today

 

  • People are still getting it wrong on the refugee crisis:
    • The countries that people think have accepted the highest number of refugees over the last decade are: Germany (54%), France (30%), Turkey (24%), U.S. (21%), Italy (21%), UK (15%), Greece (13%), Canada (11%), Spain (10%) and Russia (9%)
    • According to UNHCR, the countries hosting most refugees in 2017 are: Turkey (2.9m), Pakistan (1.4m), Lebanon (1m), Iran (0.98), Uganda (0.94), Ethiopia (0.791), Jordan (0.685), Germany (0.669), DRC (0.452) and Kenya (0.451)
    • 97% of people don’t know or underestimate the reality that the majority of displaced people (84% according to the UNHCR) are hosted by developing countries
    • People think that 32% of refugees are children under the age of 18.  The reality according to UNHCR is that 51% of the total refugee population are children

 

  • People are experiencing ‘crisis overload’:
  • 61% of people agree that there are too many humanitarian crises to keep up with in the world today
  • 54% of people feel that they always hear the same stories about the global refugee crisis
  • As a result, long term crises are the most well-known.  Whilst 79% of people know about the Civil War in Syria, 40% are not aware of the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar

 

  • Public opinion is divided when it comes to the welcoming and integration of refugees:
  • 48% of people believe refugees deserve more help than they are currently getting
  • However, 47% of people think that their country has already taken on too many refugees and only 35% feel bad that their country has not done more to help refugees
  • Only 30% of people think their country is made a better place to live in by people from other countries coming to live there and 41% of people are afraid that their country’s culture is threatened by ethnic minorities
  • Only 40% of people believe refugees bring new entrepreneurial and economic skills to the economy and society
  • As a result, people tend to think that migrants should not be settling down in their countries but helped to return home instead (76% of people agree refugees should be helped to return to their countries once conflicts are over)

 

  • Resurgence of faith in world leaders to address the issue:
    • The international community is seen as best placed to help address the global refugee crisis with 79% of people recognizing their ability to provide funding to address the crisis
    • However, only 50% of people trust the international community to provide the right level/type of humanitarian aid to address the global refugee crisis
    • Representatives from international organizations are regaining ground when it comes to having the capabilities to address the refugee crisis with Angela Merkel (up 13 pints to 46%), Donald Trump (up 10 points to 40%), Vladimir Putin (up 11 points to 35%) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (up 9 points to 31%) all gaining ground from last year’s results
    • 66% of people regard multinational businesses/corporations as capable to provide humanitarian aid for the global refugee crisis with Bill Gates (41%) and Mark Zuckerberg (35%) scoring highest as business leaders most able to address the crisis

 

  • NGOs are seen as facilitators of global cooperation:
    • 65% of people agree that many of the world’s humanitarian challenges would be worse if were not for the efforts of NGOs
    • 52% of people think international NGOs are more effective at influencing the international community (compared to 15% for local NGOs)
    • 40% of people think that local NGOs are more effective at taking an active role on the ground for refugees (compared to 25% for international NGOs)
    • 76% of people agree that for NGOs to have a real impact, they need to cooperate with local people on the ground
  • People are experiencing ‘crisis overload’:

o   61% of people agree that there are too many humanitarian crises to keep up with in the world today

o   54% of people feel that they always hear the same stories about the global refugee crisis

o   As a result, long term crises are the most well-known.  Whilst 79% of people know about the Civil War in Syria, 40% are not aware of the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar

 

  • Public opinion is divided when it comes to the welcoming and integration of refugees:

o   48% of people believe refugees deserve more help than they are currently getting

o   However, 47% of people think that their country has already taken on too many refugees and only 35% feel bad that their country has not done more to help refugees

o   Only 30% of people think their country is made a better place to live in by people from other countries coming to live there and 41% of people are afraid that their country’s culture is threatened by ethnic minorities

o   Only 40% of people believe refugees bring new entrepreneurial and economic skills to the economy and society

o   As a result, people tend to think that migrants should not be settling down in their countries but helped to return home instead (76% of people agree refugees should be helped to return to their countries once conflicts are over)

 

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