In a representative sample study involving over 1,200 Dutch people, researchers from the University of Groningen (UG) studied opinions about asylum seekers expressed between 2016 and 2019. The research was commissioned by the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC). The researchers also studied incidents and problems relating to three asylum seekers’ centres. A door-to-door survey was held in one city to ask local residents about nuisance caused by the asylum seekers’ centre and the asylum seekers themselves.
The research shows that accommodating asylum seekers is a less serious social problem than we tend to assume. Very few problems are reported around the centres. The incidents that do occur, usually involve people from ‘safe countries’. The majority of local residents are positive about the asylum seekers’ centres. Dutch people are generally keen to help asylum seekers and want them to be taken care of.
Professor of Social Psychology Tom Postmes: ‘This doesn’t mean that all Dutch people are positive about asylum seekers. Their arrival fuels people’s concerns about housing and the Dutch identity. These concerns are gradually increasing. At the same time, people tend to feel more positive about the asylum seekers themselves. A lot of empathy exists for this group.’
The study also revealed that a minority of Dutch people feel a lot of animosity towards the government. Some 25% even claim to support violence against the government, a worrying development in terms of national security. This group is also negative about migration policy and asylum seekers. Part of their negativity about migration is linked to their dissatisfaction about the government in general, rather than to issues relating to asylum and asylum seekers.
The research was commissioned by the WODC of the Ministry of Justice and Security. The representative panel was interviewed four times during the course of the research. In the first round, 2,601 respondents answered the questions. During the final round, the response was 1,239. In addition, 80 people were interviewed by telephone and three case studies were carried out at asylum seekers’ centres where incidents were known to have taken place. Finally, a door-to-door survey was distributed in one municipality, which was completed by 160 respondents.
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