Hungarian Interchurch Aid launches its largest Iraqi aid program with Hungarian government support

2017. October 19.

The Hungarian organisation opens a center to help returnees near Mosul and scales up IDP support in Erbil

Hungarian Interchurch Aid is launching a large-scale two-year humanitarian and development program in Iraq with the support of the Hungarian government. The Hungarian organisation, which is present on site since 2014, primarily aims to support families returning to the Mosul region through reconstruction efforts and to scale up the humanitarian program supporting internally displaced persons. The details were reported in a press conference held at the organisation’s Headquarter and National Coordination and Volunteering Centre on 19 October 2017.

Mr László Lehel, President-Director of HIA introduced the program, highlighting that through it, HIA has strengthened its presence in Iraq by building on its first projects from 2014 to provide humanitarian assistance to IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in Iraq and also Syrian refugees. In June 2016, HIA opened its permanent Humanitarian Centre in Erbil with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary. The Humanitarian Centre does not only function as the centre of HIA’s humanitarian actions in the region, but also serves as a headquarter for other international organisations working in the region. It also fulfils the coordinating tasks of the international ACT Alliance. HIA acts in Iraq as member of the Hungary Helps Programme and its work is coordinated by the two Hungarian Erbil-based colleagues who implement activities in partnership with numerous local partner organisations.

Mr Lehel added that HIA launched the significant Hungarian aid program with the two-year, HUF 500 million contribution of the Hungarian Government, which focuses on supporting returning families to resettle and improve their lives at home.

The programme also establishes a returnee support centre in the vicinity of Mosul which will operate for 24 months. Besides distributing resettlement packages, the centre will support returnees with building materials and household items, and will contribute to the reconstruction of the local infrastructure and education, as well as to provide psychosocial assistance.

Moreover, HIA will continue and scale up its work in the already functioning Erbil centre and distribute food and hygiene packages to those internally displaced refugee families whether they are living in refugee camps or outside of those establishments. HIA’s programme will reach at least 2000 people per region in the next two years.

HIA involves two of its local partners in the implementation of the humanitarian programme, the Duhok-based Christian Aid Program Iraq (CAPNI) and the Sulaymaniyah-based Rehabilitation, Education And Community Health (REACH) organisations.

Hero Anwar introduced the work of REACH and thanked the Hungarian support. According to decades of aid work, she stressed that "it is also true for Iraq that it is much more efficient and economical to help people in need at the source of the crisis rather than to invest in their integration abroad. It is a great pleasure that the aid program that is being launched locally helps refugees and returnees resettle near their homes"

Emanuel Youkhana, the leader of the region's largest Christian-based humanitarian organization, thanked the Hungarian government, HIA and the solidarity of the Hungarian people, which manifests itself not only in words, but also in direct help. Referring to the CAPNI slogan "To Keep Hope Alive”, he stressed that this relief program will also help to keep hope alive for the people who have suffered so much in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Dr. Ferenc Dancs Deputy State Secretary for International Cooperation at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary said that Hungary is becoming increasingly active in international development and humanitarian aid through crisis management efforts aimed at solving the migration crisis. As a Christian country, our duty is to help the needy, especially persecuted Christians. He explained that the standpoint of the government is that the migration-related problems should be addressed locally: security and  development should be guaranteed for the regions and countries where most migrants arrive from. In September 2017, the government decided to provide a total of over 622 million forints for the migration crisis, to implement development and humanitarian bilateral projects in the Middle East. Support will be provided for the implementation of programs in Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. In order to  achieve the aims of the Iraqi aid program, close cooperation is needed with Hungarian Interchurch Aid, its local partner organizations, local authorities supporting refugees, and local and international NGOs (CAPNI, REACH).

Mr Péter Heltai Ambassador at Large of the Hungary Helps Initiative said:
"The Hungary Helps Initiative brings together all the international humanitarian and development activities of Hungary, and aims to increase the visibility of Hungarian assistance and solidarity. Through the projects of the Initiative, Hungary's responses to certain global challenges are presented, which, as a responsible member of the international community, are related to their size and potential. We believe that instead of symptomatic treatment, we must provide smart, sustainable and effective help to the needy at the root of the problems in order to have a chance to prosper in their homeland. The support of the aid program of Hungarian Interchurch Aid in Iraq and future co-operation will also serve to give a new vision and hope for the individuals and the community alike. "


  • Hungarian Interchurch Aid has been providing assistance through the permanent presence and relief programs since 2016, including paying special attention to persecuted Christians.