The Hungarian Government will financing the pharmaceuticals requirements of St. Joseph’s Clinic Erbil, which is treating Iraqi Christians, for a period of six months. The 145 million forint (EUR 470,000) financing agreement was included on Monday in Budapest by Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog and Archbishop of Erbil Bashar Matti Warda.

“In 2014, fifty thousand Christians from Mosul in Iraq and some 2000 Christians from the Nineveh Plains fled to Erbil from armed Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, the vast majority of whom now live in the city’s Christian quarter of Ankawa. This district of the city has to all intents and purposes turned into a refugee camp, with Christian refugees housed in hangars an abandoned building”, the Minister said.

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At the St. Joseph’s Clinic, which was founded by the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, refugees are treated free of charge by 12 doctors, some of whom are also themselves refugees, Mr. Balog told the press. “One-hundred and twenty chronic and ninety acute patients are treated every day, in addition to which the clinic also provides a further two thousand people with medicine”, he added.

Mr. Balog stressed that he knows the assistance provided by the Hungarian Government is “a drop in the ocean”, but hopes that the provision of aid also bears a message: it indicates that “we are aware of the suffering that people living in the Middle East are having to endure, and especially Christians”.

“We know our duty and we know that we must help, and we are following the principle that we must provide assistance in places where Christian communities have lived for 1900 years and where they would like to continue living”, he said.

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Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda thanked Hungary for its assistance, adding that the hospital is primarily maintained with the help of donations, but resources ran out last month, so Hungary’s assistance has come at the best possible time.

The Archbishop also expressed his thanks with regard to the fact that members of the government and experts had visited the Clinic to gain first-hand knowledge of the situation prior to providing assistance.

Following the signing of the document, the Archbishop attended a meeting of the Charity Council. Chairman of the Council, Minister of State for Churches, Minorities and Civil Affairs Miklós Soltész proposed that the Council’s member organisations earmark some of the 50 million forints in funding they each received in mid-May to provide joint assistance in the area of Erbil.

Christian Democrat MEP György Hölvényi said: “We now have a chance to do something in Northern Iraq. In this period of reconstruction charity organisations must “switch” to providing a new kind of aid”.

Working together and providing assistance on site is also important to show the Muslim majority ‘what the Christians are capable of”.

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After reporting to the Council, Archbishop Warda suggested that the member organisations of the Charity Council establish a coordination office in Erbil from where they can manage reconstruction. He also mentioned the rebuilding of destroyed villages as another possible area of assistance. ISIS destroyed nine villages and 14 thousand houses around Erbil, he explained. Accordingly, if Hungarian charity organisations want to provide assistance, it may be worthwhile concentrating on a single settlement, which could then serve as a model for further efforts, the Archbishop said.

(Ministry of Human Capacities/MTI)