The pandemic has hampered Britain’s response to refugees, with the UK’s refugee resettlement schemes (which provide safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees) on hold since March.1 At the same time, there has been an increase in people taking dangerous journeys to reach the UK by boat compared to 2019, with sometimes tragic consequences. Many of those who arrive in the UK through this route go on to apply for refugee status.
Polling conducted for World Refugee Day 2020 showed that Britons are among the most positive globally towards refugees. Four in five Britons (78%) agree that people should have the right to seek refuge here from war and persecution, up from 72% last year.
The British public has also become more positive about refugee integration, with half (51%) now agreeing that refugees will integrate successfully into their new society (up from 45% in 2019). This is part of a wider global trend. The pandemic has also seen refugees playing key roles locally in support of their new communities, from North Yorkshire to north-east London.