A new international study released today, the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index, revealed support for humanitarian action is on a steep decline and there is an overwhelming lack of confidence in world leaders to address the refugee crisis.

Results from the Index, which surveyed nearly 6,500 people in 12 countries, were compounded by the fact that only nine percent of individuals believe their actions can make a difference in solving the global refugee crisis. For the second year in a row, terrorism is cited as the undisputed top humanitarian issue at 63 percent, followed by the widening gap between the rich and poor, hunger, climate change and forced migration.

The annual public opinion survey gauges attitudes towards humanitarian issues worldwide, the effectiveness of humanitarian intervention, and individuals’ motivations to intervene on behalf of others. A bright spot in the 2017 Index showed youth outpacing their older counterparts, showing greater openness toward and support of refugees, and willingness to take humanitarian action.

 “The sense of apathy towards humanitarianism today highlights an urgent need for engagement in every sector,” said Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) and United World College at Dilijan. “However, this negativity is counter-balanced by the incredibly positive attitudes of youth towards humanitarianism and the individual impact on the refugee crisis. All of us need to educate and motivate the young people around the world so they not only understand their capacity for meaningful impact, but are inspired to act upon it.”

Key findings from the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index commissioned by the AHI, a non-profit organization committed to building a global humanitarian movement to empower modern-day saviors, include:

  • Confidence in individual impact on humanitarian action is low:
    • Only nine percent of respondents feel they can make a difference in solving humanitarian issues.
    • Although 56 percent of respondents are upset upon hearing the hardship that Syrian refugees are experiencing, 51 percent feel they are unable to make a meaningful impact.


  • Support for humanitarian action is declining:
    • Though a majority of respondents agree refugees deserve help, only 37 percent would welcome refugees into their own countries.
    • 42 percent of respondents feel their countries have already taken in too many refugees.
    • Respondents across the 12 countries identified Germany, France and the U.S. as the countries accepting the highest number of refugees. In actuality, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey have permitted the most refugees into their countries.


  • Isolationism and nationalism extend beyond politics:
    • 34 percent of respondents agree that immigrants make their country a better place to live, yet one-third view migrants as a threat to their religious beliefs.
    • 44 percent of respondents feel their country is threatened by ethnic minorities. This figure rises significantly in the UK (56 percent); Kenya (56 percent); Turkey (55 percent); and France (54 percent).


  • There is a crisis in competent leadership:
    • 32 percent of respondents could not identity a leader capable of addressing the refugee crisis.
    • U.S. President Donald Trump (33 percent) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (31 percent) are perceived as the leaders best positioned to provide solutions to the refugee crisis today, a sharp decrease from the 46 percent of respondents from the 2016 Aurora Humanitarian Index which perceived then U.S. President Barack Obama as most capable.
    • Despite their distinctly different views, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are all equally believed by only 15 percent of respondents as being best positioned to provide solutions to the refugee crisis.  
    • Every sector surveyed is perceived as doing less in 2017 to address the Syrian refugee crisis than one year ago, as reported in the 2016 Aurora Humanitarian Index. The media, international communities, respondents’ governments and developed countries suffered the most significant decline in perceived action since 2016. 
    • The European Union and the United Nations are perceived as the most capable bodies to address the ongoing crisis, but confidence in global organizations across the board has declined since 2016.


  • Hope lies with the next generation of humanitarians:
    • Overall, younger people are more positive and confident in their capacity for impact, with 68 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 years agreeing that refugees deserve help, and 47 percent wanting to help Syrian refugees.
    • Younger respondents value diversity, with 29 percent of respondents agreeing it is better for a country if everyone shared customs and traditions.
    • Of those surveyed, respondents aged 18 to 34 years are the most likely to take action to address the refugee crisis in the next 12 months.

The global survey, led by research partner Kantar Public and interpreted by academic partner Université Libre de Bruxelles, was fielded between February 21 and March 19, 2017. Interviews were conducted with 6,466 individuals in 12 markets, up from six markets surveyed in the inaugural 2016 Index.  

“The results from this year’s Aurora Humanitarian Index compel the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative to continue its mission to celebrate and empower those who offer life and hope to those in need, inspire those individuals who have been saved to become saviors themselves, and rekindle hope in humanity,” said Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of the AHI. “Each of the five 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity finalists are brilliant examples of the deep and meaningful impact a single person can have on the world.”

The 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index will be presented on Sunday, May 28 in Yerevan, Armenia during the Aurora Dialogues, a platform for the world’s leading humanitarians, academics, philanthropists, business leaders and civil society to bring awareness to today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. The Aurora Dialogues weekend of events will culminate with the presentation of the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, a global humanitarian award that recognizes modern-day heroes and their exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes in the face of adversity. A panel discussion featuring Aurora Prize Selection Committee Members Gareth Evans, Hina Jilani and Mary Robinson, Kantar Public Methods Director Hayk Gyuzalyan, American University in Cairo Professor of Global Affairs and Center for Migration and Refugee Studies Ibrahim Awad, and RefugePoint Founder and Executive Director Sasha Chanoff will be live-streamed at www.auroraprize.com.   

For more information about the survey results and the Aurora Humanitarian Index, visit the 2017 Aurora Humanitarian Index page here. For media inquiries, please contact auroraprizemedia@edelman.com.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) is a group committed to building a broad, global humanitarian movement rooted in inspiring stories of courage and survival that emerged during the Armenian Genocide. Founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to empower modern-day saviors to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid and continue the cycle of giving internationally.

The Initiative seeks to inspire global expansion and amplification to continue a cycle of giving. By embodying a concept of “Gratitude in Action”, AHI hopes to involve the entire world in this important movement.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is an eight-year commitment that dates 2015 to 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide, which took place 1915-1923. It is intended to support people and promote projects that tackle the needs of the most helpless and destitute, and do so at great risk.

The Initiative’s various programs include: The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues, the Aurora Humanitarian Index, the Gratitude Projects and the 100 LIVES Initiative.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have been joined by several dozen new donors and partners. The Initiative welcomes all who embrace a commitment to our shared humanity.

About the Aurora Humanitarian Index

The Aurora Humanitarian Index is a special survey that examines public perceptions of major humanitarian issues. It explores the international public’s attitudes toward both responsibility and effectiveness of humanitarian intervention, as well as the motivations that urge people to intervene on behalf of others.

The annual survey is conducted across multiple countries and its findings are presented each year during the Aurora Dialogues, an international platform for discussions among leading experts in the humanitarian community, as part of a weekend of events culminating with the presentation of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.

Further information is available at www.auroraprize.com 

About Kantar Public

Kantar Public is a research company which improves decision-making in the public realm through the application of data, insight and strategic consultancy. Kantar Public works with governments, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, institutions and corporations around the world, to help them deliver more effective policy, services and communications to the public.

Kantar Public teams blend the expertise in public policy, service design, behavioral insight, and election research, and draw upon world class research design capability and data collection infrastructure. Kantar Public drives methodological innovation to deliver public value to the clients. For further information, please visit www.kantar.com/public/.

About Université Libre de Bruxelles

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is a French-speaking cosmopolitan university situated in Brussels Belgium. ULB bases its teaching and research on the principle of free inquiry. This postulates, in all domains, independence of judgement and the rejection of an authority-based conception of knowledge. Within ULB, the Group for Research on Ethnic Relations, Migration and Equality(GERME), was involved in this research project.