Since 2011 and the rise of ISIS in Iraqi and Syrian territories, the suffering of Christian communities in this war-torn region hasn’t received proper attention and help. Unimaginable just a few years ago, today, Christians of the Middle East and Northern Africa are facing persecution, sometimes torture and death, solely for their faith, and Hungary has launched a government initiative to institutionalize aid to the affected communities. The government’s determination to send financial support comes following Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s meeting with Pope Francis and Christian patriarchs from the Middle East and Egypt.
The migration crisis has seen Europe leave its borders open to millions of people from the Middle East and Africa as well as Central and South Asia, many of whom pay human traffickers to transport them on a life-threatening, inhumane journey. Once in Europe, new problems arise — unemployment, housing, cultural barriers, and the challenge of integration. Ideally, the crises causing people to flee should be addressed near its source, for example, on Syrian and Iraqi soil. Hungary’s new spending bill attempts to do just that by helping to restore order and rebuild so that these people can return to fruitful lives in their ancestral land.
The new project to help rebuild the community near Mosul follows Hungarian support to the successful reconstruction of a Christian school in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq. As we see in the video below, aid is going to where it is most needed. Destroyed by ISIS militants, the inhabitants of Erbil are already diligently working to rebuild their city. An Erbil priest, Father Salar, has been providing more than just spiritual guidance, as a construction project manager he’s happy to roll up his sleeves and lend a helping hand.
“We thank very much the government of Hungary for the 2 million dollars that they would give us to rebuild and reconstruct these houses and this village,” says Father Salar, in the video. “We can make a difference with this money.” As Father Salar guides the group through Erbil, accompanied by Balázs Orbán, director general of the Budapest-based Migration Research Institute in attendance, viewers get a firsthand impression of the village’s spirit, dedication and viability, but also a foretaste of the hard work that lies ahead.
Th Hungarian government initiative aims to make a difference. By assisting those in need, not just in the Middle East, we can make a meaningful contribution to stability in some of the region’s most hard-hit areas. Recently, similar governmental efforts supplied Hungary’s neighboring state of Ukraine with financial and humanitarian aid. Additionally, a Hungarian state-sponsored youth project welcomed more than 2,200 eastern Ukrainian students for a summer program.
Many observers assert that we haven’t yet seen the end of these regional conflicts, and the humanitarian toll will grow. In any case, more affluent, developed countries removed from conflict centers must be ready to help.