News from Hungary

HHP Roundtable discussion on Humanitarian Development

On the 26th of November, the Hungary Helps Agency hosted an online roundtable discussion: Humanitarian-development nexus and the role of Faith-Based Organisations.

In his opening remarks, Péter Kovács-Pifka, Director General of Hungary Helps Agency thanked the participants in attendance and highlighted, that Hungary provides support and humanitarian help amidst the COVID-19 crisis, noting that suffering has neither colour nor religion.

Three presentations followed. The first was from Tomah Jbara, PR manager of Jordan Caritas and Father Salar Kajo, founder and manager of the Reconstruction Committee of North Niniveh – Chaldean League from Iraq.

The following presentation was by Father Gérard Lagleder OSB, President of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard of South Africa,  who acknowledged the medical assistance, the medical equipment and a vehicle their organisation received from the Hungary Helps Program.

The subsequent speaker was Mr. Silvestri from the AVSI Foundation, an NGO from Italy mainly working in Italy and Africa.

This was followed by a roundtable discussion, where Tristan Azbej, State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and for the Hungary Helps Program stated: “Hungary Helps Program helps those who are [themselves] willing to help.” He also added that these organisations are mostly faith based organisations. He highlighted that nowadays, the biggest problem is the right to freedom of religion. He stressed that religious intolerance creates tensions, especially in the current Corona crisis mentioning that the Hungary Helps Program assisted approximately 100,000 people.

The ensuing spokesman was MEP György Hölvényi, who is the coordinator for EPP Group in the Committee on Development also the Standing Rapporteur of the EU Trust Funds and the Co-Chair of the EPP Interreligious Dialogue Working Group. He calculated that the Church provides 40% of the health care in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Church educates every 5th child.

This intervention was followed by Michael Köhler, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations who said: “We need more nexus…”, suggesting that faith-based organisations are not only helpful but also very good on the local level, and expressed his hope to work together with these organisations not only in the humanitarian field but also in the area of conflict analysis to circumvent further problems.

The next speaker was Claudia Miller, Trust Fund Manager for EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. Since the establishment of the fund in 2014, they have given non-humanitarian support to the neighbouring countries of 2.2 billion Euro where the Syrian refugees are mainly located.

Twenty-one member states of the EU supports this region which has received 20 billion Euro so far. In the recent crisis, the redirected fund is worth fifty million Euro.

Jean-Marc Dewerpe, who is the Trust Fund Manager for the Sahel/Lake Region of the EUTF Africa, was the final speaker of the panel.   He reported that so far,  4.5 billion Euro has been spent on the Sahel region, in an effort to bring support as close to the locals as possible.

Mr. Köhler answered to the moderator’ question, that Central Eastern European countries have tremendous experience in humanitarian aid around the world, with the higher education that these countries provided, being an outreach.

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