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Public attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers in Bulgaria 2019-2020

This report analyses two separate surveys, aiming to examine Bulgarian society’s attitude towards refugees. These surveys are a 2019 UNHCR survey and a 2020 study by the Bulgarian Academy of Science.

The key themes of the report are:

  • Investigation into the motives of people’s attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers;
  • Exploration of perceptions and reasons for fears or concerns of Bulgarians;
  • Exploration of the influencing factors on stereotypes of refugees and asylum seekers;
  • Assessment of the level of information available concerning the situation of refugees in Bulgaria.

The survey commissioned by UNHCR Bulgaria included quantitative research, covering more than 1 000 respondents between the ages of 18 and 61, as well as a qualitative study based on focus group discussions conducted in Sofia, Plovdiv, Haskovo and Vidin. The survey by the Bulgarian Academy of Science was conducted in August 2020, using the same methodology.

Conclusions of the research include:

  • Awareness among Bulgarians of refugee-related issues decreased significantly [in the time between the two surveys];
  • Most Bulgarians have never communicated with refugees;
  • The decline in awareness of refugees and a lack of first-hand information leads to attitudes based on well-established stereotypes and information shared by the media;
  • Bulgarians demonstrate a higher tolerance of refugees than of migrants;
  • A fear that refugees might spread disease decreased in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Bulgarians in general do not express xenophobic attitudes towards refugees.

Find more survey results here.

Posted by:
Country Coordinator Bulgaria