Irish people 'most sympathetic' towards Syrian refugees, study finds

IRC survey finds 87% of respondents have some level of sympathy

Irish people 'most sympathetic' towards Syrian refugees, study finds

Image: Andrea Falcon/IRC

Ireland has been ranked as the most sympathetic country towards Syrian refugees.

An average of 87% of Irish respondents say they have some level of sympathy - closely followed by Spain (86%) and Germany (84%)/Portugal (84%) in joint-third.

Generally, the survey by the UK-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) found three in four people (76%) expressed a great deal, a fair amount or a small amount of sympathy for Syrian refugees coming to their country.

The poll was commissioned by the IRC, and looked at attitudes in 12 countries.

It found on average, only three in 10 (30%) of respondents of working age identified national security as one of their top three concerns about refugees coming to their country.

Economic pressures - such as the cost to the government of hosting refugees (30%) and additional pressure on the national welfare system (30%) - were cited as top worries.

Image: IRC

Since the beginning of 2015, almost 7,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

The death toll continues to rise.

"If enough resettlement places become available, more refugees will be deterred from taking these dangerous journeys and apply for resettlement instead", the IRC says.

"Once integrated into the labour market, refugees become net contributors to the economy.

"The IMF predicts that the EU's GDP could be 0.25% higher by 2020 as a result of the refugee arrivals to the EU in 2015, and between 0.5% and 1% higher in Germany and Sweden, where most of the refugees have settled.

"And Europe needs the labour. The same IMF report finds that over half of Europe’s population will be retired or children under working age by 2050".

The group says that in 2014, EU member states resettled just 8,579 of the 1.19 million refugees in need of resettlement.

The IRC calculates that the EU should resettle at least 108,000 refugees each year over the next five years, at a minimum.