Americans found ignorant of refugees

May 18, 2011 at 8:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- A poll released by an advocacy group Wednesday suggests Americans are ignorant of who refugees are, where they live and even how their status is defined.

The survey was done by Orc International for the United States Association for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. More than 1,000 people were polled.

More than half, 57 percent, thought the United States has the largest refugee population and only two people correctly identified Pakistan as the country with the most refugees. USA for UNHCR says about 80 percent of the refugee population is in so-called Third World countries.

Only 42 percent defined refugees as people displaced from their home countries by war, conflict or fear of oppression. Almost half counted all immigrants as refugees.

U.S. residents tended to underestimate the number of refugees worldwide and the number of years they spend in camps, and to

overestimate the relief funds available.

The poll was conducted in April.

"Being from Afghanistan, a country with one of the largest refugee populations, the cause of displaced persons around the world is an issue that is very dear to my own heart. "A strong and enduring international humanitarian commitment is integral to the well-being of refugees, which is why we must shine a light on the terrible and growing refugee crisis," said Khaled Hosseini, author of "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns," and a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR.

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