An Ipsos poll has shown that about half of Serbian citizens would be against migrants becoming part of their families, while 39% thought that living in a neighbourhood with migrants was undesirable.
Dragan Vukotić from UNHCR says that the data are particularly disturbing because the degree of intolerance and xenophobia is more pronounced among younger people.
The poll also shows how refugees from the Middle East and Africa arriving in Serbia are perceived and that just over half of citizens believe that refugees should not be granted Serbian citizenship. One in four citizens holds the opposite opinion.
About half of Serbian citizens (54%) would be against refugees becoming members of their families. Just over 1/3 of those surveyed would not mind their daughter or son marrying a refugee. More than half of the citizens would not mind refugees from the Middle East or Africa moving into their neighbourhood. This is mainly the opinion of residents of Belgrade and other bigger urban areas.
However, 39% of the survey participants have a completely opposite opinion, mainly because they think that their neighbourhood would no longer be safe enough if migrants moved in. More than 2% of the survey respondents believe that migrants need separate and organised accommodation. It is encouraging that the majority of Serbian citizens (78.5% of the survey respondents) have nothing against refugee children going to school with their children.
Vukotić also points out that we are currently witnessing the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. “Over 5,000,000 refugees have left Ukraine since 24 February, when the war began, and have crossed the border and gone to other countries; another 7,700,000 have been displaced within Ukraine alone, which amounts to a total of 13,000,000 people who have lost everything in the war.”
He goes on to say that around 6,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Serbia, which is mostly perceived as a transit country, and are mostly placed in private accommodation by friends and relatives, while the Vranje Asylum Centre has housed just over 50 of them.
As for the research data about xenophobia, Vukotić adds that the data are particularly disturbing when it comes to young people, high school and university students, as the degree of intolerance and even open xenophobia towards refugees is more pronounced in these population segments.
“We came to the conclusion that young people form their opinions on the basis of unverified information that appears on social networks and do not rely on the traditional media, which still have to adhere to certain editorial policies and have to perform fact-checking,” says Dragan Vukotić, underlining that young people must be presented with verified facts and data and allowed to form their own opinions on the basis of them.
This post is also available in: Italiano