The Hungarian government is donating another 2 million dollars to the renovation of 30 Christian churches in Lebanon, in an effort to reduce the pressure of illegal migration, the foreign minister said in Beirut. Péter Szijjártó, speaking at a press conference held together with his Lebanese counterpart, said the food crisis, one of the global ramifications of the war in Ukraine, posed a huge challenge for countries in a difficult situation such as Lebanon. “These difficulties could lead to even greater waves of migration from unstable regions and we also know that those waves cause instability and are usually directed at Europe,” Szijjártó said. “Should that pressure increase, Europe will not be able to handle it.”
Szijjártó noted that around one fifth of Lebanon’s population was now made up of Syrian refugees, and called for international assistance to help them return to their homeland, adding that providing accommodation to that community was a huge burden on Lebanon. Unless such help is provided, further masses of migrants could set off for Europe, he said. So far, the Hungarian government has financed the renovation of 33 Christian churches in Lebanon using a budget of 1.8 million dollars, the minister said. “We want Lebanon to remain Lebanon, with a Christian community that can rely on Hungary’s help,” he said. “Christians in Lebanon asked us earlier to save their churches so that those churches could save Christian communities.” Despite being distant countries, Hungary and Lebanon have a shared interest in achieving peace in Ukraine, before the food crisis further aggravates and “spurs millions and tens of millions to leave their homeland”, he said. “Hungary appreciates Lebanon’s efforts and Lebanon can rely on Hungary’s help in future,” he said.
The international community should shift its focus to helping Syrian refugees return to their homeland, he said, warning that failure to do so could lead to instability in the Middle East and “unprecedented migration pressure”.