Oct 03, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

[VIDEO] The Hungarian face of solidarity, delivering help directly to the people living in crisis regions

The Hungarian government has put forward a unique effort in its global humanitarian initiative, Hungary Helps. It aims to achieve far more than what one would expect from a country of Hungary’s size, focusing particularly on assistance to troubled communities in their homeland, rather than promoting the resettlement to Europe of those in crisis zones.

Hungary Helps is based on a humanitarian approach guided by Christian principles, focused on the idea that help should be given where the problem arises, enabling the beneficiaries of the assistance and attempting to create long-term solutions rather than short term fixes. “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day,” as the saying goes. “If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”

“[H]elp must be taken to where the trouble is, rather than bringing the trouble under our roof,” Prime Minister Orbán said earlier this year. That‘s the essence of the program’s approach.

We’re well aware of the fact that a lot of international media coverage since the outbreak of the migration crisis in 2015 has depicted Hungary in an unfavorable light. According to those reports, Hungary has closed its borders to refugees and turned its back on humanitarian crisis. That story is inaccurate, but it’s out there, and it will take some time to overcome those perceptions. In fact, as Bence Rétvári, parliamentary state secretary for the Ministry of Human Capacities said in a recent interview, the newly appointed ambassador-at-large for the Hungary Helps initiative, Péter Heltai, will spend considerable effort overcoming those perceptions.

Instead of “lofty ideas”, as Ambassador Heltai puts it, the Hungarian model operates through “concrete action that leads to long term, sustainable solutions.”

Through the Hungary Helps initiative, Hungary helped to rebuild a war-torn Christian community near Mosul and reconstruct a Christian school in Erbil. The country provided 145 million HUF worth of pharmaceutical aid, financed the construction of 200 houses in Telskuf, supported the renovation of 32 Christian churches in Lebanon and launched a scholarship program to help one hundred young Christians and several hundred Muslim students who are suffering from conflicts in the Middle East.

“Just a few thousand kilometers from our borders” Péter Heltai continues, “millions of people are suffering persecution and the deprivation of their basic human rights” on ethnic, religious or cultural grounds. Hungary stands up for those in such desperate conditions.

“The Hungarian government’s assistance is a perfect example of how the government can help persecuted Christians,” Stephen Rasche, one of the leading figures behind Christian charity organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said recently in Rome. The program has also received praise from the Vatican.

Hungary Helps remains true to our own history, which has taught us resilience and a deep affection for our homeland. We too have experienced foreign invasions and know what it’s like to rebuild from scratch. We also know that it’s possible and it has made our nation stronger as a result.

“The goal of Hungary Helps is to show the face of Hungary’s solidarity,” said Ambassador Heltai. “We intend to offer smart assistance directly to the inhabitants of crisis regions. The essence of the program is to bring assistance there, not to bring the problems here, as every forint spent is worth much more there than if it were spent here.”