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Jul 06, 2019 - Tristan Azbej

A humanitarian assistance program to save them from the long and dangerous plight of the migrant

This is how Hungary helps Africans find stability and security at home to avoid becoming refugees.

Assistance should be taken to the trouble spots, instead of bringing the challenges to Europe. That’s the foundation of the Hungarian government’s humanitarian policy, and the driving force behind the Hungary Helps Program to deliver help directly to communities affected by conflict. It’s focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, and it strives to enable locals through direct aid to stay in their homeland instead of migrating to Europe.

Sub-Saharan Africa has become one of the main sources of migration to Europe. Millions flee the region each year due to armed conflicts, public unrest and socio-economic hardship. Although many of them find refuge in Africa, they head to Europe in large numbers, fueled by the false promises of pro-migration politicians and human traffickers. The government of Hungary wants to help these people and these communities in a way that gives them hope and reason to stay in their homeland. We believe smart, direct assistance offers a better response to the problems they face than the desperate choice of migration. This is why we launched the comprehensive Hungary Helps Program in 2017.

Only two years old, the project has already enabled more than 35 thousand people – belonging to vulnerable communities such as persecuted Christians – to remain in their homelands.

In Nigeria, for example, where Christians are murdered by the thousands because of their faith, the Hungary Helps Program has provided 1 million EUR in aid to the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri for the reconstruction of educational and health infrastructure devastated by the repeated attacks of the local Boko Haram terrorist group. What’s more, Hungary donated an additional 1 million EUR to the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto for similar projects, while supporting the Church of Christ in Nations’ (COCIN) social rehabilitation endeavors in the region with 500 thousand EUR. COCIN helps Christian refugees return to their homes once ravaged by Boko Haram and supports agricultural activities that improve the self-sufficiency of these households and eradicate food shortages and diseases related to starvation.

 

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hungary provides 1 million EUR to an eye clinic run by the Centre Ophtalmologique St Raphaël. Located in the provincial town of Mbuji-Mayi, the clinic is run by the Brother Richard Foundation for the Sick in the Congo. The assistance funds the construction of the establishment’s new surgery wing as well as medical missions to distant regions of the country that lack access to basic medical services. The clinic was established and is led by a Hungarian eye surgeon and missionary, Brother Richárd Hardi, and provides care to approximately 10 thousand patients every year. Because of the lack of proper healthcare in DR Congo, his practice extends to 8 million people.

Our newest project focuses on Ethiopia. Hungary has provided 1.5 million EUR to the Mai-Aini refugee camp operated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, the Ethiopian Catholic Church and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. The camp provides shelter and basic services for approximately 15 thousand Eritrean refugees, in spite of severely limited resources and facilities. The Hungarian government’s support enables the construction of the infrastructure needed to ensure reliable water supply in the camp and provides education and support services for refugees. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Addis-Ababa has also received half a million euros in support.

During the peak of the migration crisis in 2015, the Orbán Government was widely criticized by international actors for taking a firm stance. Among those voices, some said that Hungary was acting heartlessly. Our approach is simple: To provide an alternative to the exploitation of human traffickers and manipulation of pro-migration NGOs, we are doing everything in our capacity to enable those in need to stay in their homelands. In the words of Prime Minister Orbán: “Trouble should not be brought here, but assistance must be taken to where it is needed.” And that’s exactly what we endeavor to do.

The author of this guest post is Hungary's State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians.