Seven in 10 Irish support overseas humanitarian support

Over half of Irish people unaware of scale of worldwide refugee crisis, study finds

Seven out of 10 Irish people support State financial assistance for overseas humanitarian relief efforts, according to the latest data from Oxfam Ireland.

However, over 50 per cent of Irish people remain unaware that more people around the world are displaced by conflict and violence today than at any time since the second World War.

In a survey to mark World Humanitarian Day, Oxfam Ireland and the European Commission found that half of respondents had donated to a humanitarian emergency in the past year, with woman significantly more likely to donate.

EUsaveLives campaign

The survey, which was conducted among 1,000 participants across Ireland as part of the EUsaveLives campaign, found that 83 per cent of people said media coverage of humanitarian crises was “vital” in heightening public awareness.


The number of refugees worldwide has risen to almost 60 million for the first time since the second World War, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

This means one in every 122 humans is now a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.

Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken says despite the nation’s record of providing support to emergency relief efforts, many Irish people are still unaware of the scale of global humanitarian emergencies.

“With each passing year, the world becomes a less peaceful place,” said Mr Clarken. “There is still some way to go in public awareness levels of the scale of the global humanitarian emergency. This is despite the unprecedented number of crises that have recently hit nations right across the world.”

Fleeing war

Director of Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland Jane-Ann McKenna highlighted the number of refugees who continue to arrive on boats via the Mediterranean, fleeing war, conflict and persecution.

So far this year, 137,000 people have arrived by sea onto southern European shores, while an estimated 2,000 people are believed to have lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

"Europe must do more to assist people fleeing war and violence," said Ms McKenna. "Not only should safe and legal channels be created for those who migrate, but more humane reception facilities must also be provided in the ports of Europe. Human dignity and the right to flee violence must be respected."

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast