New survey shows falling Czech support for helping Ukrainian refugees

Significantly fewer people said they support the idea of accepting the refugees into Czechia – this amount now stands at just over 50 percent.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 28.06.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 28.06.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

A new opinion poll shows that Czechs’ support for their country accepting Ukranian refugees has decreased markedly since spring 2022, declining by almost 20 percentage points.

Conducted by the Czech Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM), the study asked Czechs for their views on how the state should handle refugees and the public’s general interest in them. The survey was undertaken from the end of January to late March this year.

Less interest in refugee situation, more reluctance

Just over half (56 percent) of Czechs support Ukrainian refugees’ temporary acceptance into the country, down from 75 percent a few months after the outbreak of the widescale war.

A total of 39 percent of Czechs report “being interested” and regularly monitoring developments related to Ukrainian refugees. This figure had been at 66 percent around 12 months ago. 

Just one in 10 Czechs are currently in favor of Ukrainian refugees permanently settling in Czechia whereas over 70 percent prefer only temporary admission, with the refugees’ subsequent return to Ukraine after the war ends. 

The proportion of people being outright against the acceptance of Ukrainian refugees has risen from 13 percent in the spring of last year to 17 percent in the first three months of 2023. However, in autumn 2022 this figure was as high as 22 percent.

Official data released in April shows that Czechia has well over 300,000 Ukrainian refugees, with about 56 percent of all adults employed (part-time or full-time).

Data from the CVVM also shows that, pre-2022, Czechs were far less likely to accept Ukrainian refugees. For example, in mid-2017, almost six in 10 Czechs were against accepting any refugees from the country. 

The study also mentions that, in 2018, around two-thirds of Czechs reported having zero or little interest in the Syrian refugee crisis. 

Societal integration is important

A survey by PAQ Research released in April shows that Czechs have mixed feelings about Ukrainians’ integration into Czech society. Less than half of Czechs (46 percent) believe that Ukrainian refugees “share Czech culture, values, and adapt to them.” Only half (52 percent), believe Ukrainians adequately understand, and can speak, Czech.

Sociologist Daniel Prokop, the director of PAQ, told iRozhlas in June this year that Czechs’ perception of refugees depends on how well the state helps integrate them. In January, the government launched a new assistance-based campaign to help Ukrainians integrate into the Czech labor market. 

With the war still intense and missiles continuing to strike Ukraine, it is likely that refugees will continue to settle in Czechia. Czech society's reactions to this remain to be seen.

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