Two-thirds of Poles reject the European Union (EU) redistribution of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, and more than half do not want to accept any asylum seekers at all, a new poll reveals.
A total of 52 per cent of Poles do not want Poland to accept asylum seekers from conflict zones, and 67 per cent said their country should not accept a redistribution of migrants who have travelled to the EU from the Middle East and Africa, Radio Poland reports.
Young people were found to be more unwilling to accept asylum seekers than the older generation with approximately 62 per cent of people aged under 35 being against, while among older age groups that view is shared by 48 to 52 per cent of respondents.
The survey, conducted by the Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS), showed that 40 per cent agreed that Poland should accept asylum seekers from conflict zones – but only until they can safely return to their country of origin.
In total, 92 per cent of Poles reject the permanent settlement of migrants. Only 4 per cent thought that migrants should be received and allowed to settle in Poland permanently.
When it came to the EU’s controversial migrant relocation plan, which sought to redistribute migrants who had arrived from the Middle East and Africa during the migrant crisis, 67 per cent of Poles rejected accepting those migrants.
These figures are in line with other Eastern European nations’ opinions of migrants and asylum. In a survey of Hungarians, 90 per cent of respondents were against illegal migration.
Surveyed Hungarians were also asked about the EU’s redistribution quota, a move that has been heavily resisted by Hungary and its fellow Visegrad (V4) countries Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Seventy-one per cent of Hungarian respondents agreed with the other V4 countries and totally reject the idea of the redistribution of migrants.
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło rejected EU demands that her country takes 7,000 mostly Muslim migrants, saying that after the Paris attacks national security must come first. Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski later told the media the quota plans were “dead”.
Poles were more accommodating to migrants from neighbouring Ukraine, which has experienced unrest following the Euromaidan protests and the annexation of Crimea. The proportion of Poles willing to accept Ukrainian asylum seekers was 58 per cent, those opposed 37 per cent.
There are an estimated 300,00 to 400,000 Ukrainians in Poland including those claiming asylum in the country.
Mateusz Kramek from the Ukrainian World centre, which provides assistance to Ukrainians in Poland, said his organisation enjoys widespread support from the Polish electorate and Poles donate generously. The Guardian notes that “similarities in culture between Poland and western Ukraine in particular have generally made integration of Ukrainian migrants relatively straightforward.”
Poland is also looking to welcome tens of thousands of ethnic Poles to Poland. A parliamentary committee has been working to repatriate Poles and their descendants from Kazakhstan. In 1936, Soviet authorities deported 70,000 Poles from their western territories, such as Ukraine and Belarus, to Kazakhstan. Although many died from the harsh conditions, it is thought that over 30,000 of their descendants still live in the Central Asian country.
The committee was also working on changes to the “Pole’s Card”, which Radio Poland describes as “a document created in 2008 which confirms a person’s membership of the Polish nation without requiring Polish citizenship.” The card is only available to residents of former USSR countries, and it has been proposed to give holders the same rights as Polish citizens under certain specific circumstances, such as in life-threatening scenarios.
Supporters of the Kazakhstan repatriation legislation consider it the nation’s “moral duty”.