Another story: what public opinion data tell us about refugee and humanitarian policy


Blitz, B. 2017. Another story: what public opinion data tell us about refugee and humanitarian policy. Journal on Migration and Human Security. 5 (2), pp. 379-400.
TitleAnother story: what public opinion data tell us about refugee and humanitarian policy
AuthorsBlitz, B.

The global reaction to US President Donald Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” of January 27, 2017, revealed great public sympathy for the fate of refugees. In the case of Europe, such sympathy has, however, been dismissed by politicians who read concerns regarding security and integration as reason for introducing restrictive policies on asylum. These policies are at odds with public sentiment. Drawing upon three major public opinion surveys across the European Union and neighboring states, this article records a marked divide between public attitudes towards the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and official policies regarding asylum and humanitarian assistance. It seeks to understand why this is the case.
The article suggests that post-9/11 there has been a reconfiguration of refugee policy and a reconnecting of humanitarian and security interests which has enabled a discourse antithetical to the universal right to asylum. The main conclusion is that in a post-post-Cold War era, European governments have developed restrictive policies despite public sympathy. Support for the admission of refugees is not, however, unqualified, and most states and European populations prefer skilled populations that can be easily assimilated. In order to achieve greater protection and more open policies, this article recommends that human rights actors work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners to challenge the anti-refugee discourse through media campaigns and grassroots messaging.

PublisherCenter for Migration Studies of New York
JournalJournal on Migration and Human Security
Publication dates
Print01 Jun 2017
Online08 Aug 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited15 May 2017
Completed09 May 2017
Accepted09 May 2017
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
Copyright Statement

© 2017 by the Center for Migration Studies of New York. All rights reserved.
Copyright: Consistent with an ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Common License (CC BY-NC-ND)

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