Confronting Compassion Fatigue: Understanding the Arc of Public Support for Displaced Populations in Turkey, Colombia, and Europe
Historic levels of global displacement have put intense pressure on systems designed to protect people fleeing conflict, instability, and persecution. Three cases stand out for having triggered a particularly generous response amid enormous upheaval: Turkey's reception of nearly 4 million Syrians since 2011, Colombia's hosting of nearly 3 million Venezuelans who have arrived since 2015, and Europe's welcome of more than 5 million Ukrainians (with nearly 2 million in Poland alone).
This report examines the ebb and flow of public support for forced migrants in these three cases. It highlights factors that have contributed to initial widespread solidarity, ways in which support has been sustained over time, and when and why it begins to fade. The report concludes by drawing lessons from these case studies on what policymakers can do to better anticipate and address compassion fatigue.
As the study notes, “While compassion is extremely powerful, it is also highly vulnerable to fatigue. In the long term, politicians must anticipate the gradual ebbing of solidarity by putting in place sound policies to meet practical community needs amid large-scale migration.”
2 Three Case Studies: Perceptions of Syrians, Ukrainians, and Venezuelans
A. Syrians in Turkey
B. Venezuelans in Colombia
C. Ukrainians in Europe
3 Waxing and Waning Public Support: Trends across Case Studies
A. What Factors Explain Solidarity towards Refugees?
B. What Factors Can Erode Public Support and Cause Compassion Fatigue?
4 Conclusions and Policy Recommendations