Survey Shows Majority of Poles Favor Cuts to Ukrainian Refugee Benefits

A significant majority of Poles, as high as 95%, believe that government assistance to Ukrainian refugees should be reduced, citing a perception of “lack of gratitude” among the migrants.

According to recent survey data, a majority of Polish citizens want the government benefits provided to Ukrainian refugees to be cut back. The survey also indicates that the number of Poles opposed to providing any additional aid to Ukraine has increased in recent months.

As of March 2024, Poland has provided refuge to approximately 960,000 Ukrainian individuals, according to statistics from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency. Under the Temporary Protection Bill enacted in April 2022, these refugees are eligible for housing, food, healthcare, access to education, and a comprehensive social assistance package, all funded by the Polish government. This includes a one-time payment of 300 zloty ($75) and regular benefits totaling 800 zloty ($200) per child. Poland also provides Ukrainian parents with a 1,000 zloty ($250) payment upon the birth of a child.

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

The survey results indicate that a vast majority (95%) of respondents believe government assistance to Ukrainian refugees should be reduced. While free education for Ukrainian children remains a relatively positive aspect in the eyes of Polish citizens, a majority insists that these children should be educated under the Polish curriculum, not one tailored specifically for Ukrainians.

When asked about the reasons behind their negative perceptions of Ukrainian refugees, respondents cited what they see as a sense of entitlement and a “lack of gratitude for help” among Ukrainians. They also pointed to a perceived “Eastern mentality [and] Soviet culture,” characterized by a lack of concern for the common good. Polish citizens expressed concerns that Ukrainian refugees believe they are “entitled to everything” and that “everything is due for free,” while demanding “the same rights as Poles.”

Only 17% of respondents indicated having no issues with Ukrainian refugees settling permanently in Poland. Conversely, 61% expressed a desire for Ukrainian refugees to return to their homeland once hostilities end.

The same study revealed a decline in the number of Poles strongly in favor of providing aid to Kiev, dropping from 62% in January 2023 to 31% currently.

A significant 72% of respondents indicated that Poland should prioritize its own national interests despite the challenges faced by its neighbor.

Similar trends were observed in another survey conducted in January, as reported by Rzeczpospolita earlier this year. Citing police data, the media outlet also reported at the time that the influx of Ukrainian refugees had led to a spike in crime.