Studies reveal public concerns about the refugee crisis in Czechia

Czechs exhibit the highest levels of reluctance towards taking in Ukrainian refugees of any nation in the EU.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 06.04.2022 13:08:00 (updated on 06.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic has welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms. It’s thought over 300,000 refugees have entered the country since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started on Feb. 24. They have received temporary protection visas providing full access to the labor market, along with a monthly stipend of CZK 5,000 and help finding accommodation.

Concerningly, though, there’s mounting evidence that the open stance presented by the government is not shared by a majority of Czech citizens. A perceptions study by Gallup International Association found that of all the countries in the EU, Czechs are the most reluctant to take in an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees.

On average, 50 percent of EU citizens think an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees should be welcomed. But in the Czech Republic, 66 percent of the population think only limited numbers should be admitted. This is the highest proportion in favor of restrictions in any EU nation.

Meanwhile, Czech citizens are less eager to provide more support to Ukraine than other EU countries. While 57 percent of all EU citizens believe enough has been done to support Ukraine, in the Czech Republic the figure is far higher, at 79 percent. Only neighboring Slovakia scores higher, at 84 percent.

Given the apparent public outpouring of support for refugees and the Ukrainian cause in the Czech Republic, such data, gathered from a representative sample of 1,030 people, may be met with skepticism.

Yet the findings of the survey are backed up by a previous poll by Data Collect. Conducted in mid-March, this survey of Czech public opinion found that only a quarter of respondents were happy with the provision of temporary benefits, help finding accommodation, or free language courses to Ukrainians.

Meanwhile, the survey found that over 60 percent of Czechs think assistance to Ukrainians should only be provided for the next few months. A quarter of the respondents were openly unhappy about the arrival of Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn home.

These similar findings from two separate studies should concern the government. Interior Minister Vít Rakušan recently said that the number of refugees in Czechia is expected to climb to between 500,000 and 600,000, a figure equivalent to five percent of the total Czech population. What’s more, Rakušan has already predicted that up to a third of refugees will want to stay for good.

If this is indeed the case, a crisis in perceptions of the refugee crisis could lie in store. Despite the Czech Republic's warm-hearted welcome to those in need, it’s clear that the country also harbors some of the EU’s highest levels of skepticism and concern.

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