Humanitarian Assistance and Permanent Settlement of Asylum Seekers in Greece: The Role of Sympathy, Perceived Threat, and Perceived Contribution

Elisavet Thravalou, Borja Martinovic*, Maykel Verkuyten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

During the recent inflow of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe, the native population in Greek frontier islands largely offered humanitarian assistance to these immigrants, while support for their permanent settlement in the area was low. To explain this discrepancy, we investigated whether sympathy toward asylum seekers, perceptions of threat posed by asylum seekers, and asylum seekers’ perceived societal contributions relate differently to native Greeks’ self-reported provision of humanitarian assistance and to their support for asylum seekers’ permanent settlement in Greece. Using data from a representative sample of 1,220 Greek participants, we found that Greeks who showed more sympathy toward asylum seekers were more likely to report having offered humanitarian assistance. Further, participants who felt more sympathy and those who perceived higher asylum seekers’ contributions were more positive toward asylum seekers’ permanent settlement, whereas participants who perceived more threat from asylum seekers showed less support for their permanent settlement. We conclude that policies geared toward motivating people to provide humanitarian aid to asylum seekers should focus on generating sympathy, whereas policies geared toward increasing long-term acceptance of asylum seekers need to additionally consider lowering threat perceptions and highlighting asylum seekers’ contributions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-573
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Migration Review
Volume55
Issue number2
Early online date10 Sept 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • asylum seekers
  • greece
  • humanitarian assistance
  • perceived contribution
  • perceived threat
  • permanent settlement
  • sympathy

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