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Most Poles want their government to help refugees: poll

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A majority of Poles want their government to help refugees, a European Union poll showed on Wednesday, a result that may be seen as in contrast with Warsaw’s opposition to an EU plan to support asylum seekers in the continent.

Protestors hold signs during their "Refugees welcome" demonstration in front of the Mikolaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus) monument in Warsaw, Poland September 12, 2015. REUTERS/Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta

The nationalist-minded, euroskeptic government in Poland has refused to take in a single asylum seeker under an EU plan meant to relocate across Europe refugees who reach the continent through Italy and Greece escaping wars and persecution.

Poland is under an EU disciplinary procedure for not applying the EU relocation plan for refugees.

However, 56 percent majority of Polish interviewees in a Eurobarometer poll, called for Poland to help refugees in reply to a question on whether the country should do so.

The figure increased from 53 percent recorded in a previous poll conducted last autumn, while those who opposed helping refugees decreased to 36 from 37 percent.

Around 33,000 people were interviewed in Europe for the poll, of which some 1,000 were in Poland.

The survey was conducted in May, before the latest friction between Poland and the EU over separate judicial reforms flared up. The results were published on Wednesday.

Hungary and the Czech Republic also face sanctions over the refugees’ relocation plan. Slovakia has also opposed the EU plan citing security concerns after a raft of Islamist attacks in the EU in recent years.

Among the Eastern European states with governments that are reluctant to take in asylum seekers, Poles were alone in being supportive of refugees, while a broad majority of Czechs, Hungarians and Slovaks said their countries should not help.

On average, 67 percent of EU interviewees said their countries should help refugees, with peaks of 90 percent in Sweden, 88 percent in the Netherlands and 87 percent in Denmark.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Alison Williams