Three in four Greeks see migrants as a burden on the country and more than half believe them to be responsible for crime, a survey of 18 countries that host half of the world’s migrants by the Washington-based Pew Research Center has found.
Greece was among the most negative in all the charts indicating locals views toward migrants, ranking on a par with countries such as Hungary and Italy, known for their hardline policies against immigration.
Asked whether they believe that migrants make the country stronger because of their “work and talents” or are a burden because they “take our jobs and social benefits,” 74 percent of respondents in Greece said they viewed them as a burden – the highest percentage among all the 18 countries, above Hungary, where 73 percent held a similarly negative view.
Greece was also most negative on the question of whether the country should accept fewer or more migrants, with 82 percent of respondents calling for a reduction in arrivals, against Hungary’s 72 percent. Just 2 percent of Greeks saw reason for the country to allow more people in, and 15 percent said current levels are acceptable.
Views on the issue were diametrically different in the other two countries on the front line of the refugee crisis, with 71 percent of Italian respondents saying they wanted fewer migrants in their country, against 30 percent in Spain, where 39 percent of respondents said that current levels were satisfactory and 28 percent were in favor of more immigration.
On the question of crime, meanwhile, 59 percent of Greeks said migrants were more to blame, an opinion shared, albeit to a smaller degree, by Swedes and Germans, against 29 percent in Spain and 44 percent in Italy.
The findings of the Pew study came just two days before International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Thursday.
The occasion was marked in Athens with a walk organized by rights groups, starting from Syntagma Square.
Greece’s Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou on Wednesday ordered an investigation into whether two incidents involving attacks on migrants should be treated as racially motivated and charges should be brought against individuals involved in the assaults.
The first case relates to a decision by a parents’ association on the Aegean island of Samos to withdraw children from a local school in protest at the presence in classrooms of refugees from the island’s reception center.
The second case relates to an attack last Friday by a group of around 70 residents of Vilia, west of Athens, on a hotel hosting refugees.