By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
(Worthy News) - An archbishop in war-torn Syria has thanked Hungary for enabling hundreds of Christians to return to their homes, Hungary’s government said.
Jean Abdo Arbach, the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Homs, Hama, and Yabroud, reportedly writes that “200 Syrian families could return home.”
He made the announcement in a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the press office confirmed.
“The Hungarian government-provided financing to renew two Christian youth centers and 200 homes,” the bishop was quoted as writing. The properties were “destroyed in violent clashes in the region since 2011,” the letter added.
Hungary is one of the first countries with a government office dedicated to persecuted Christians.
The government says that Hungary, with less than one percent of the world's population, spent up to $50 million helping Christians, one of the most persecuted minorities.
Critics argue, however, that the authorities appear reluctant to accept Christian refugees in Hungary. Relatively few Christians, including those from Syria and Iran, received asylum or shelter here, Worthy News established.
However, Tristan Azbej, Hungary’s secretary for aiding persecuted Christians, defended the reluctance to take on refugees.
He says rather than “encouraging persecuted communities to leave their homelands, help should be taken where the problems arise.”
Azbej also urged the world to not forget “about those for whom the coronavirus seems like the lesser evil compared with the existential crisis they are forced to face every day.”
He recently told an online conference that the number of Christians facing persecution globally rose from 245 million to 260 million within a year.