Hungary Helps Agency established

2019. április 17., szerda

The Hungary Helps Agency has been established, The task of the new agency, which will be operating within the framework of the State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Realisation of the Hungary Helps Programme, will be to coordinate programmes to help persecuted Christians”, State Secretary Tristan Azbej announced on Tuesday in Budapest.

At his press conference, Mr. Azbej told reporters that in view of the fact that the state secretariat he heads is running increasing numbers of aid programmes, the establishment of an agency specifically to realise and supervise the programmes, and to assure transparency and measure efficiency, has become necessary.

“The Agency will be headed by Gábor Márki, who was Deputy State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence between 2010 and 2012, and foreign trade attaché at Hungary’s Embassy in Tel-Aviv between 2013 and 2016”, he added.

The State Secretary also spoke about the fact that over 8 billion forints (EUR 25 million) in funding has been provided to help persecuted Christians remain in place, directly enabling 35 thousand people to remain or return home within the framework of the Hungary Helps Programme, which was launched in 2017.

In addition, other ministries also have humanitarian and international development programmes, and students from crisis regions are attending Hungarian universities within the framework of two scholarship programmes, the Stipendium Hungaricum programme, and a programme specifically for young Christians.

“We are running programmes in five Middle Eastern and two sub-Saharan countries, and one of the most extensive programmes concerns the reconstruction of the city of Tel Askuf in Northern Iraq. In 2014, 1300 Christian families fled from the town, on the Nineveh plain, and over 900 of the settlement’s buildings were damaged or destroyed. The 580 million-forint (EUR 1.8 million) donation provided by the Hungary Government was enough to enable the Chaldean Catholic Church to rebuild the city, as a result of which 1000 of the 1300 families have since returned home”, the State Secretary told the press.

“We are setting this programme as an example before the world’s public opinion and other governments and international organisations, because we would like them to follow our example and spend at least as much money on similar direct programmes to help people remain in place, as they spend on facilitating migration and integration programmes, for instance”, he said.

“This is difficult diplomacy work, but in December 2018 we succeeded in signing a cooperation agreement with the United States International Development Agency (USAID), and we are also continuously searching for European partners”, he added. “According to plan, with time the Hungary Helps programme could become V4 Helps or even EU Helps. Polish-Hungarian cooperation has already been realised, and the two countries are jointly funding an orthodox orphanage in the Middle East”, Mr. Azbej pointed out.

Gábor Márki told reporters: “The Agency will have three main tasks. Firstly, it will coordinate all of the Hungarian Government’s humanitarian aid programmes, with particular emphasis on immediate aid provided in the case of natural or other disasters. Secondly, it will fully realise all of the Government’s programmes aimed at assisting persecuted Christians and other religious communities. And thirdly, it will also take part in the realisation of the international development policy goals being coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade”.

Mr. Márki told MTI: “The task of the Agency, which will be operating with a staff of twenty, will be to find partners for the programmes receiving funding based on the Cabinet’s decisions; generally not large international aid organisations, but small local organisations and Churches, with which we can work together at the site of the aid being provided. The Agency will also be monitoring the realisation of these programmes and the related financial accounting”.

The Hungarian government also supports Reformed Churches in Syria namely the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East. The funds are to be used for the renovation and extension of the Armenian girl’s dormitory in Aleppo, and the boy’s dormitory run by the Arab-speaking church. Furthermore, some of the funds are allocated for the renovation of Bethel’s church centre, and for the extension of the doctor’s offices operated by them. The Armenian community’s school buses that have been destroyed during the war are also to be replaced, and the humanitarian programmes of both churches are also to be financed this way. 



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