Syria Crisis: Five Years into the Conflict, New Poll Shows Increased Awareness Among Americans

Media Contact :

Lauren Fisher
National Director of Public Relations
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m 206.310.5476

Samer stands in the doorway of the tent he shares with eight other people in an informal settlement of Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. (Credit: Patricia Mouamar)
Samer stands in the doorway of the tent he shares with eight other people in an informal settlement of Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. (Credit: Patricia Mouamar)

WASHINGTON, DC (October 14, 2015) — After more than four years of conflict in Syria, resulting in the largest humanitarian crisis of our time, it appears Americans are finally taking notice. A survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of World Vision in September showed an increase in perception of the magnitude of the Syria crisis as the event affecting the greatest number of people compared to other recent disasters (Earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, Indian Ocean tsunami and Genocide in Rwanda) since 2014 (27 percent up from 10 percent). In addition, among those familiar with the Syria conflict, more than 4 in 5 (83 percent) now believe the U.S. should help in some way (up from 76 percent in 2014).

The survey’s findings come as images of 3-year-old Alyan Kurdi – a Syrian child who drowned when his family tried to flee to Europe via the Mediterranean – shocked many and caused an outpouring of news coverage and calls for Western countries to do more. Donations to World Vision tripled just one day after the photo’s release. Since the publication, World Vision has raised more than $2.6 million from more than 11,000 donors across the country. Hundreds of donors have pledged to turn their donation into a monthly recurring gift.

“There’s been an outpouring of compassion among our donors and church partners. People saw that image of the little boy and realized he could be our own child or nephew,” said Rich Stearns, President of World Vision US. “For the first time, instead of ‘the other,’ Americans recognized Syrian refugee children as the innocent victims they are – forced to deal with the consequences of a conflict they had no part in creating.”

This comes after struggles to raise even a tenth of the funds that typically come in from high-profile natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake. At the same time, the overall humanitarian response for the region remains woefully underfunded, bringing consequences like multiple cuts to refugee family’s food stipends. Currently a refugee in Lebanon must survive on just $13.50 of food each month.

“There is still so much more to be done. It is my hope that this is the first step towards us as a nation stepping up to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children. Our response toward this crisis of Syrian families violently forced out of their country will define what we stand for as a nation. We can act out of fear or we can show compassion towards those who seek refuge. I believe our history shows we are a nation country that demonstrates compassion,” Stearns said.

World Vision has helped more than 2 million people in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Serbia. Programs include food and cash transfers, safe spaces for children to play, health care, remedial education and water and sanitation.

Other survey findings:

  • Nearly one in five (18 percent) Americans are still not familiar with Syria conflict
  • Americans are more inclined to support increasing humanitarian aid (44 percent) to help Syrian refugees than other interventions including increasing diplomatic pressure (31 percent)
  • Seniors age 65+ (91 percent) are more likely than those under age 65 (80 percent) to be familiar with the Syria crisis
  • Men (88 percent) more likely than women (77 percent) to be familiar with the Syria crisis
  • Seniors age 65+ (78 percent) are more likely than millennials age 18-34 (66 percent) to believe the U.S. should help those affected by Syria crisis

About this poll:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of World Vision from September 14-16, 2015, among 2,031 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Lauren Fisher (206.310.5476 / [email protected]).

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.

Highlights

  • Donations to World Vision for aid to help Syrian refugees tripled within one day
  • Among those familiar with Syria conflict, more than 4 in 5 (83 percent) now believe the U.S. should help in some way
  • Nearly one in five (18 percent) Americans are still not familiar with Syria conflict