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Global Compassion Toward Refugees Highlights Need for G-20 Action

Photo courtesy ITUC

This post originally appeared at the ITUC.

Overall the majority of people from six G-20 nations, surveyed in the latest International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) 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 G-20 heads of state and governments meeting at the 2015 summit in Antalya, Turkey, must issue a G-20 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, it's obvious that leaders are lacking in compassion,” 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 G-20 must act immediately to increase funding for refugee needs, social protection and recognize 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, Burrow said. Some 54% 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. Some 77% of people in Turkey think that it’s important that the G-20 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 G-20 act to stop the use of barrel bombs in Syria.

Burrow expanded:

Having visited several Turkish villages and seen firsthand how households are sharing what they can with Syrian refugees, I am humbled by their humanity. 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 U.K., U.S. 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 G-20 to provide for refugees, including: increasing funding for refugee needs and host nations for social protection, recognizing refugee’s rights to work and nations taking responsibility to resettle those forced to flee to neighboring counties.

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

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