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Hungary signs accord with archbishop to support Iraqi clinic

Associated Press logo Associated Press 29/05/2017 By PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press
Hungarian Minister of Human Resources Zoltan Balog, left, and Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda talk to each others after signing a supporting document of 145 million Hungarian forint (US dollar 525,000) donation to St. Joseph's Hospital in Erbil, Iraq, which provides services for mainly Christian refugees living in the city, in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, May 29, 2017. The donation is meant to cover the clinic’s medicinal supplies for six months. (Tibor Illyes/MTI via AP) © The Associated Press Hungarian Minister of Human Resources Zoltan Balog, left, and Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda talk to each others after signing a supporting document of 145 million Hungarian forint (US dollar 525,000) donation to St. Joseph's Hospital in Erbil, Iraq, which provides services for mainly Christian refugees living in the city, in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, May 29, 2017. The donation is meant to cover the clinic’s medicinal supplies for six months. (Tibor Illyes/MTI via AP)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary's government is donating 145 million forints ($525,000) to Saint Joseph's Clinic in Erbil, Iraq, which provides services for mainly Christian refugees living in the city.

An agreement on the donation, meant to cover the clinic's medical supplies for six months, was signed Monday by Hungarian Minister of Human Resources Zoltan Balog and Archbishop Bashar Warda, a Chaldean Catholic cleric in Erbil.

Warda said his archdiocese received 13,200 Christian families in August 2014 after they fled Mosul when the Islamic State group took control of the Iraqi city.

"Some families will not be able to go back, because their houses have been destroyed completely or burned," Warda told The Associated Press. "They need some time before making their way back to these villages."

Warda, who will meet Tuesday with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said the donation "will be a big help" for the clinic, which provides free medicines to 3,100 people with chronic diseases.

The treatment of Christians in the Middle East was akin to "genocide, cleansing on a religious basis," Balog said at the signing ceremony. "The Christian quarter (of Erbil) practically turned into a refugee camp."

While Orban views the large number of Muslim migrants reaching Europe as a threat to the continent's Christian values and culture, last year the government set up a deputy secretariat within Balog's ministry to help persecuted Christians, especially in the Middle East.

In February, the agency said it gave 1 million euros ($1.1 million) each to Syria's Orthodox and Catholic churches to assist the return of refugees to their homelands.

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