The world is growing less accepting of migrants, according to a Gallup poll, with the sharpest declines in welcoming attitudes coming in Central American countries that have seen an influx of people fleeing Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship.
The poll, released on Sept. 23, showed that attitudes toward migrants declined most substantially in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, which have seen an influx of Venezuelans fleeing turmoil in their home country.
Last week, while visiting Guyana, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke out against Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, calling on him to leave office.
“We talked about the need for democracy in Venezuela and an end to the illegitimate regime that is denying that very democracy that the Guyanese people so love, denying that democracy from the people of Venezuela,” Pompeo said on Sept. 18.
Overall, the world has become slightly less accepting of migrants today than it was three years ago, with Gallup’s latest iteration of its Migrant Acceptance Index showing a drop in its global score to 5.21 from 5.34. The index is based on more than 140,000 interviews in 145 countries and regions (pdf).
Gallup’s index showed that Canada was the most welcoming country toward migrants, followed by Iceland and New Zealand. The United States remains near the top of the league of countries most welcoming to migrants, in sixth place.
Seven European countries, led by North Macedonia, Hungary, Serbia, and Croatia, topped the index of the world’s least-accepting countries.
Turkey, with a score of 2.53, came in as the 10th least-welcoming country.
“Turkey’s appearance likely reflects the burden the country took on with the 2016 deal with the EU to keep refugees in its territory,” members of Gallup’s editorial team wrote in a note. “The country currently hosts an estimated 4 million refugees and migrants, and the 2016 deal has since collapsed.”
Scores also fell in Belgium and Switzerland, where migration continues to be a polarizing subject, according to Gallup.
The poll was released as Europe prepares to unveil a new asylum plan following a fire at an overcrowded camp in Greece that left thousands without shelter.
Member countries of the European Union have long been at loggerheads over how to handle the influx of migrants, many of whom arrive in Mediterranean countries from North Africa by boat. The arrival in Europe in 2015 of well over 1 million migrants, most of them refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, sparked one of the EU’s biggest political crises, driven by disputes over who should take responsibility for them, and whether every member state, including those with limited or no sea access, should be obliged to help.
The bloc’s executive unveiled a plan on Sept. 23 which seeks to provide a flexible burden-sharing arrangement that will either legally oblige all members either to host a share of refugees or take charge of deporting those who are refused asylum.
Earlier proposals to force EU member countries to host refugees based on quotas faced pushback by several countries, including Poland and Hungary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.