A first communion mass was held in April in the St. George’s Chaldean Church, in Tel Isqof, Iraq, which was destroyed by the Islamic State in 2014, and rebuilt through the Hungary Helps Program.
Hungary is further providing two million dollars to the renovation of thirty Christian churches in Lebanon, following the previous funding of 1.8 million dollars, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced in Beirut on Thursday. In the framework of the Hungary Helps Program, the Hungarian government protects communities threatened by religious or other persecution, violence, catastrophes, or the effects of migration.
In a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart, the Hungarian Minister said that he was coming from a country where war is raging in the neighborhood, but the armed conflict in Ukraine is having negative effects not only in the region but also throughout the world. The food crisis, he said, is one of the most acute problems in countries, citing, for example, the efforts that are being made in Lebanon to feed its population.
“We know that these difficulties could lead to new waves of migration from already unstable regions, larger and more serious than ever before. We also know that these migratory flows are destabilizing and are generally directed towards Europe,” he said.
The Minister added that the Hungarian government had so far financed the renovation of thirty-three Christian churches in the Middle Eastern country with a budget of 1.8 million dollars, and that the second phase of the reconstruction program had now ended. This means that the third phase could begin, with the renovation of another thirty churches with a budget of two million dollars.
He stressed that
we want Lebanon to remain Lebanon, so the Christian community here can count on Hungary’s support.”
In the past, Christians in Lebanon asked us to save their churches so that they could save the Christian communities,” he said.
Szijjártó also pointed out that in Lebanon, displaced persons from Syria now make up about a fifth of the population. Speaking at a conference on the impact of the civil war in Syria on Lebanon, the Foreign Minister stressed that the international community needs to change its approach and focus on facilitating the return of Syrian refugees.
“I would like to express our deepest respect to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt for taking in people who have had to leave their homes,” he said, pointing out that these countries are now at the limits of their capacity and that their burden must be eased.
He said the government had also implemented a number of projects in Syria, worth about 27 million dollars. In this context, Hungary has been involved in the reconstruction of hundreds of buildings, including schools, and has provided support for the running of hospitals, agricultural projects, and the studies of thousands of university students, among other projects.
Featured photo via Facebook/Péter Szijjártó