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Poles want benefits slashed for Ukrainian refugees – survey

Some 95% of respondents said government assistance should be reduced, complaining about a “lack of gratitude” among migrants

The vast majority of Poles want government benefits for Ukrainian refugees slashed, a recent survey has shown, according to local media. The number of Polish people who believe Warsaw should not provide any additional aid to Kiev has also risen in recent months, the study indicates.   

According to data from the EU statistics agency Eurostat, as of March 2024, Poland has hosted 960,000 Ukrainian refugees. Under the Temporary Protection Bill passed in April 2022, these people receive housing, food, healthcare, access to education, and a full package of social assistance at the state’s expense. They are also entitled to a one-time payment of 300 zloty ($75), as well as regular benefits totaling 800 zloty ($200) per child. Poland also pays Ukrainian parents 1,000 zloty ($250) upon the birth of a child. 

On Tuesday, the Rzeczpospolita newspaper cited the findings of a study titled “Social perception of refugees from Ukraine, migrants and actions taken by the Polish and Ukrainian state,” which was conducted by Dr Robert Staniszewski from the University of Warsaw and the University of Economics and Humanities in Warsaw. 

The survey revealed that as many as 95% of respondents believe government assistance to Ukrainian refugees should be reduced, with free education for Ukrainian children remaining one of the few aspects viewed predominantly positively by Poles. However, most respondents insisted that young refugees should be taught the Polish curriculum, and not the one specifically adapted for Ukrainians.  

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Asked about the reasons for their negative attitudes toward Ukrainian refugees, respondents cited Ukrainians’ supposed entitlement and a “lack of gratitude for help,” as well as the “Eastern mentality [and] Soviet culture,” which manifests itself in the lack of concern for the common good. Poles complained that Ukrainian refugees appear to believe that “they deserve everything,” and that “everything is due for free,” while demanding “to have the same rights as Poles.” 

Only 17% of respondents said they had no issue with Ukrainian refugees settling in Poland permanently, while 61% said they wanted them to go back to their country once hostilities there are over.  

The same study showed that the number of Poles strongly in favor of providing aid to Kiev has declined from 62% in January 2023 to 31% at present.  

Some 72% of respondents told the pollster that Poland should put its own national interests first despite the difficulties experienced by its neighbor.  

Similar trends were evident in another survey from January cited by Rzeczpospolita earlier this year. The media outlet, citing police data, also reported at the time that the influx of Ukrainian refugees had resulted in a spike in crime.

June 18, 2024 at 07:40PM

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