Hungary’s Prime Minster Viktor Orban and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin described the Middle East as the “cradle of Christianity” when the two met at a joint meeting with Middle Eastern church leaders in Budapest on 30 October.
President Putin raised concerns about the “mass exodus” of Christians from regions of conflict in the Middle East and pledged that Russia “would do everything” to protect the Christians who are “in peril there, facing persecution, being killed, raped and robbed”.
Orban confirmed at the meeting that Hungary wants to set up an “international alliance” to help Christians and other minority faiths who are facing persecution.
Christians in the Middle East have endured severe persecution and violent conflict. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syriac Orthodox Church said, “Many times, we feel we are abandoned as Christians of the Middle East. We feel we have no friends. That nobody cares about us.”
In 2016, Hungary created a department focused on alleviating the persecution of Christians in the Middle East after an earlier meeting between Orban and church leaders including Patriarch Aphrem. The Russian stance should serve to strengthen efforts to support these suffering Christians. Barnabas Fund has supported many projects for Christians in Syria through Patriarch Aphrem’s office and other project partners, including feeding programmes and emergency aid after violent attacks.