Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hungary Tries to Help the Christians

From Christianity Today:
Many of the 1.5 million refugees who have fled to Germany since the country announced its “open door” policy in 2015 traveled through “the Balkan route,” though Hungary has now erected a fence on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia. Hungary’s new office will have a starting budget of $3.35 million with which to help persecuted Christians, to raise international awareness of their “untenable situation,” and to coordinate humanitarian efforts, Balog said. (Canada’s office had $5 million.)

In Iraq, a Christian population estimated at more than a million before the 2003 war—and considerably more prior to that—today stands at less than 300,000. Many displaced from Iraq’s Nineveh Plains after the 2014 ISIS offensive currently seek a permanent home in the West. In Syria, a similar situation has developed since the country’s civil war started five years ago. Other countries in the region have seen a hemorrhaging of indigenous Christianity with the resurgence of Islam as a political ideology since the last century.

Iraq ranks second and Syria is fifth on Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, a list of 50 countries where Christians come under the most pressure. Almost 40 of the 50 countries are majority Muslim or have Islamist non-state actors (e.g. militias) at work. The Hungarian government will spend the coming weeks working out the exact duties of the new department, though it will have a primarily humanitarian focus, said Eduard von Habsburg, the Hungarian ambassador to the Holy See.

The decision to launch the new department came after Orban and Balog traveled to Rome in August to meet Pope Francis. Orban and Balog, respectively a Protestant layman and a Calvinist pastor, were the only non-Catholic members of the group whom Pope Francis received in a private audience in August. Von Habsburg said that government officials’ interactions with leading European churchmen and with the patriarchs of the Middle East contributed to the decision to form the agency. (Read more.)

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