Slovakia is experiencing solidarity fatigue
The war in Ukraine has been going on for more than eighteen months. While the continuing humanitarian crisis still forces Ukrainian men and women to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, the sense of solidarity fatigue is increasing among Slovak men and women. This was proven by the latest public opinion poll of the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences SAS (CSPV SAV) from August 2023.
The public opinion poll was conducted on a sample of 1,854 respondents. The results point to the fact that almost 50% of Slovaks believe that "Ukrainians are helped too much" and that this help should be limited in time (Graph 1 in the appendix).
"In the respondents' answers, we identified solidarity fatigue, which can be caused by several factors. This may be due to economic pressures, political factors, but also the influence of the media," explains social psychologist Jana Papcunová from the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences SAS. Economic problems in Slovakia contribute to resentment among the local population, who may see refugees as potential competition for jobs and resources.
The political campaign in Slovakia also contributed to the feeling of solidarity fatigue. "Politicians are using the migration crisis for their own benefit, inciting fear and resentment among their constituents. This can weaken public support for refugees even more," adds J. Papcunová, who also draws attention to the consequences of media influence: "Constant media coverage of the refugee or migration crisis can lead to information overload and desensitisation of the population. The term "migrant" is often associated with the term "illegal migrant", which strengthens the negative connotation," adds the scientist.
August survey of the CSPV SAV also revealed concerns that "arms supplies only prolong the war" (Graph 2 in the appendix). These concerns can affect the level of support for refugees and underline the importance of addressing solidarity fatigue among Slovaks. This view further emphasizes the complexity of the problem and emphasizes the need for cautious and responsible policy.
As solidarity fatigue grows in the host community, tensions between refugees/migrants and the local population may intensify. These tensions often arise because of the feeling that resources and opportunities are being provided to refugees at the expense of local residents. This can create an atmosphere of rivalry and hostility, leading to social and cultural conflicts. In the worst cases, these tensions can manifest as hatred and hateful acts against refugees/migrants, as we saw in the case of Cyprus in August.
"It is essential to realize that solidarity fatigue is a natural human reaction to long-lasting and burdensome crises. Addressing solidarity fatigue and its consequences is key to maintaining social cohesion and supporting the values of empathy, tolerance and solidarity in host communities," concludes J. Papcunová.
Prepared by: Katarína Gáliková
Illustration photo: Unsplash/Benjamin Marder