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2014

Erbil, Iraq: medical aid to refugee camps provides a lifeline

Malteser International delivers urgently needed supplies

Erbil, Iraq: Oliver Hochedez, Malteser International team leader, surveys a refugee camp

Erbil, Iraq: Oliver Hochedez, Malteser International team leader, surveys a refugee camp

Over the weekend, Malteser International teams worked solidly to deliver shipments of medicines, medical supplies, wheelchairs and water filtration and storage systems to two refugee campes in Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil, north Iraq.

“This first shipment starts to address the dire need for essential drugs for refugees. It includes medicines for chronic illnesses, especially for the primary healthcare facilities currently overwhelmed by large numbers of displaced persons,” reports Dr. Juergen Clemens, Malteser International’s emergency relief coordinator. “But there are still important gaps - for instance in psychosocial care, as not enough providers are available to meet the growing demands.”

Erbil, Iraq: wheelchairs are delivered to the refugee camp

Erbil, Iraq: wheelchairs are delivered to the refugee camp

Working with its local partner organisation, the Order of Malta relief service now plans to deploy a mobile medical team in Erbil and the surrounding region. They will provide psychological care for traumatised victims whose lives have been so harshly disrupted.

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Homeless crisis in north Iraq worsens as schools get ready for the new term

Massive demand for survival provisions, reports Malteser International

Iraq: school providing shelter for refugees, Shaklawa, north of Erbil
Iraq: school providing shelter for refugees, Shaklawa, north of Erbil

‘Iraqi children go back to school on September 10, so the thousands of displaced currently sleeping in empty school buildings will have to relocate to other emergency shelters,’ warns Oliver Hochedez, team leader of Malteser International, the Order of  Malta’s international relief agency, on the ground in Erbil.  And he notes that twenty-four improvised camps set up, mainly in schools or church grounds, will soon be exhausted.

The United Nations estimates there are over a million refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) in north Iraq. ‘As well as Christians and minorities who are being persecuted by the Islamic State militias, there are many Syrian refugees seeking safety in the Kurdistan region too,’reports Hochedez.

Erbil: Malteser International team leader, Oliver Hochedez, confers with colleagues
Erbil: Malteser International team leader, Oliver Hochedez, confers with colleagues

Malteser International is organising distribution of medicines, drinking water and hygiene items with its partners on the ground: the undertaking to provide for these thousands of homeless is massive.

Planning beyond the emergency phase
Malteser International is already planning beyond the initial emergency phase. ‘The refugees will need our help mid to long-term as well, whether they remain displaced or can return to their homes,’ says Dr. Juergen Clemens, who joined the response team in Erbil on Thursday.

Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int petra.ipp@malteser-international.org

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Iraq: Thousands in need still cannot be reached

Order of Malta relief agency, Malteser International, reports from the ground in Erbil

Iraq: refugee camp - a small girl collects the family's water supply
Iraq: refugee camp - a small girl collects the family's water supply

‘A massive stream of refugees has fled across the border into Syria and back again into the Kurdish region near Dohuk,’ reports Oliver Hochedez, leader of Malteser International’s response team in Erbil. ‘Extremely high temperatures – up to 45 degrees – and a very limited water supply are causing severe health threats to the IDPs - heat stroke, dehydration, diarrhoea, skin infections.’

Twenty-four improvised camps have been set up, mainly in schools or church grounds. ‘Help from neighbours and countless volunteers have prevented disaster,’ says Hochedez. ‘But these resources will be exhausted pretty soon. It’s a massive undertaking to provide everything the thousands of displaced need to survive. And thousands more are still unreachable.’

Iraq: constructing a refugee camp outside Erbil
Iraq: constructing a refugee camp outside Erbil

The number of displaced in Iraq continues to rise rapidly. In less than a week, over 200,000 people in north Iraq – most of them Christians – were driven to flee from the terrorist group Islamic State.

Malteser International is organising distribution of medicines, drinking water and hygiene items with its partners on the ground. The response team will continue to assess the needs on the ground and prepare additional relief.

Iraq: refugees bed down in a church in Erbil
Iraq: refugees bed down in a church in Erbil

Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity – without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int

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Joyful summer days, good friends along the way

Order of Malta’s 31st annual international summer camp for young disabled

Harskamp, Holland: the 31st international summer camp for disabled young opens
Harskamp, Holland: the 31st international summer camp for disabled young opens
harskamp, Holland: international summer campers - out and about!
harskamp, Holland: international summer campers - out and about!
500 have turned up at the specially adapted camp in Harskamp, Holland – 200 young disabled and their 300 helpers and volunteers from 23 countries, to meet their good friends, make more, have fun. And to forget for one wonderful week the difficulties of everyday life. Grand Master Matthew Festing was on hand to meet and greet these engaging young with encouragement for their commitment to help each other – the able as much as the disabled.

Order Prelate, Archbishop Acerbi, celebrating the opening Mass, spoke of the humanitarian tragedies of this age – in Ukraine and Iraq, in Syria and Gaza, and reminded his eager young congregation of the Order’s continuing mission: always to help those in great need.

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Iraq: Grand Master appeals for an end to religious discrimination

Violence and religious discrimination in Iraq cause acute concern

Refugees flee from northern Iraq
Refugees flee from northern Iraq

The news from Iraq of violence and religious discrimination, leading to the flight of tens of thousands of Christians from the north of the country, has created a tragedy which has assumed humanitarian proportions.

Pope Francis has added his condemnation of the tragedy, calling on the international community do more to exert pressure and bring the persecution and the humanitarian drama to an end.

 Grand Master’s appeal
The Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, has declared his ‘deep and serious concern’ at the events in recent days. In declaring it an ‘unacceptable persecution of the Faith,’ he has requested the members and volunteers of the Order of Malta to pray for the Iraqi people and for an end to violence and religious discrimination.

Over 200,000 have fled in recent weeks due to the advances of IS, the self declared islamic states of Syria and the Levant. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reports that the majority of the refugees belong to religious minorities. The UN mission described the situation in northern Iraq as ‘desperate’, a ‘humanitarian tragedy’, ‘a matter of life and death.’

 The conflict has intensified around Qaraqosh, the main Christian city in Iraq. Its surrounding areas have been overrun by IS militants. The Chaldean Patriach, Louis Sako, who heads the largest Christian church in Iraq, confirms: ‘In these days, 100,000 Christians have fled on foot in the clothes they stand up in, heading towards Kurdistan. It is a humanitarian disaster: the churches have been occupied and their crosses torn down.’

Almost the entire Christian community in the area of Mosul has been forced to leave their homeland, where they had continued the tradition of one of the oldest Christian communities. 

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Iraq: Thousands of Christians flee northern Iraq

Malteser International healthcare in the region forced to pull back

Baharka refugee camp, near Mosul, north Iraq
Baharka refugee camp, near Mosul, north Iraq

Thousands of Christians are fleeing from the armed conflicts and death threats as IS militants move to control the region around Mosul, northern Iraq. Malteser International, the Order of Malta relief agency, has supported the Karamless health centre near Mosul since 2003.

Yesterday, in the face of the IS militants’ advance, the medical centre was forced to close.


Medical centre, Karamless, north Iraq, last month
Medical centre, Karamless, north Iraq, last month

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To remove all barriers

The spirit of the Order of Malta summer camps for young disabled

Order of Malta summer camp, Ukraine 2014
Order of Malta summer camp, Ukraine 2014

For the Order of Malta, summer means camps for disabled young people and a chance for members and volunteers to offer their services. Whether volunteer or guest, it is a unique and enriching experience for everyone. Just a few examples: 

International: The Order of Malta International Summer Camp
‘Friendship in freedom!’ This year it is the turn of the Netherlands to host the 31st International Camp for disabled young people. Some 500 people from 20 countries will participate from 9 to 16 August for a week of friendship, team work, entertainment and integration for the disabled aged from 18 to 35. Thanks to the support of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, the camp will be held in the Royal Netherlands Army Base “Harskamp/General Winkelman” in the splendid setting of the De Veluwe national park, 50 kilometres south-east of Amsterdam. As always, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing will be taking part in the International Camp. 

Ukraine: Summer camp in the Carpathians for young from northern Europe
‘Ukraine, dream! – to dream of a new, joyful, happy and peaceful Ukraine, where everyone can find their way, to realise their full potential.’ The motto inspired the Order’s 15th annual summer camp in Dora, Ukraine, for young disabled. From 29 June to 6 July, the Order hosted guests from Ukraine, Byelorussia, Russia and Germany in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains. Guests went walking in the mountains, learned how to carve and create dolls, took part in cooking competitions and first-aid courses, sang with full hearts and enjoyed themselves hugely together. All the activities were accompanied by daily prayers and religious celebrations. As every year, the event was organised by Ukrainska Maltijska Sluzba Dopomohy, the Order of Malta’s Relief Corps in Ukraine which operates from Lviv. 

Lebanon: Nine summer camps in Sourat north of Beirut
There are nine summer camps organised in Sourat, Lebanon. European young – mainly German, British and Dutch – are working alongside their Lebanese contemporaries to offer a week of recreational activities to guests with physical and mental disabilities from hospitals or specialised centres in Lebanon. This is an important emotional and cultural experience for all. The first camp started 29 June and the last ends 11 September. 
Order of Malta summer camp, Lebanon 2014
Order of Malta summer camp, Lebanon 2014
Italy: Young Italian guests gather near Bologna
‘Remove all barriers.’ The Italian summer camp for the disabled, organised by the Sovereign Order of Malta’s three Italian Grand Priories and Relief Corps, is underway in Ozzano, near Bologna, 28 July-3 August. Guests are sharing fun, friendship and spirituality. The camps grow every year as word gets around - so this time there are 40 guests and some 70 volunteers, plus 10 kitchen staff (in 2013 there were 90 participants and organisers). 
Order of Malta summer camp, Italy
Order of Malta summer camp, Italy


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Irish knight makes history – first professed knight of the Order of Malta in Ireland since the 16th century

Symbolism and tradition marks a ceremony which goes back almost a thousand years

Historic event: Fra'Paul Caffrey makes his Solemn Vows, Dublin
Historic event: Fra'Paul Caffrey makes his Solemn Vows, Dublin

On the most important day for the Order of Malta in Ireland since the 16th century, a ceremony of Solemn Vows was celebrated as the packed congregation heard Fra’Paul Caffrey make his promises to Grand Master Fra’Matthew Festing. Dr.Caffrey, an art historian with expertise in eighteenth and nineteenth century Irish art and design, is the first professed Irish knight for 474 years. His promise is to live according to the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. 

The ceremony attested to a constant throughout nine centuries – the mission of the Order of Malta – the love of God and the love of one’s neighbour (tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum). This mission comes from the founding knights of the Order in Jerusalem in the 11th century. Their work throughout history to care for those in need has led Pope Benedict to describe their help as adding ‘radiant pages to the annals of Christianity’.  

The service included a specially commissioned piece of sacred music, composed by the Community of the Silverstream Priory, and sung by the Lassus Scholars.  

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War and poverty – populations fleeing home countries cry for help

Order of Malta providing support in many regions – ‘This is an international crisis’ - Grand Chancellor of the Order


Grand Chancellor boeselager
Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager spoke of the humanitarian emergencies the Order is tackling a press conference held on 2 July in Rome: ‘Populations fleeing war and poverty: the work of the Order of Malta’.

Television news agency Rome Reports took part in the press conference and interviewed the Grand Chancellor. 

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The most important day in the Order’s calendar

St John’s Day – thanksgiving for the year past, prayers for the year ahead

St John's Day, Brompton Oratory, London
St John's Day, Brompton Oratory, London
Every 24 June the 47 Associations and Priories of the Order of Malta around the world celebrate with Masses and ceremonies the feast day of St John Baptist, patron saint of the Order. It is a time of thanksgiving for the year past and of prayers for the year ahead for the Order’s continuing mission – now almost a thousand years old - of caring for the poor and the sick, whoever they are and from wherever they come. 

In London, the event took place this morning at the Brompton Oratory. The President of the British Association, Richard Fitzalan Howard, and the Grand Prior of England, Ian Scott, welcomed distinguished guests, including the Grand Prior of the Venerable Order of St.John, Anthony Mellows, and Order members, their families, volunteers, friends and many who work in the Order’s Homes Care Trust (OSJCT) and in the Order’s charitable activities around Britain. 
Senior office bearers of the British Association
Senior office bearers of the British Association

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Balkans: heaviest rains and worst floods for over a century

Order of Malta teams give assistance and distribute basic necessities

Serbia-food bank for distribution after devastating floods
Serbia-food bank for distribution after devastating floods

The Order of Malta’s Embassy in Belgrade has delivered an initial shipment of food aid to victims of the recent floods in Serbia, where over 50 have died, thousands have been displaced, whole communities cut off, houses buried, and damages estimated at one billion euro. 

A second consignment of 17 tons of foodstuffs, clothing and personal hygiene products will be distributed to the stricken population thanks to a generous contribution from a well-known Italian supermarket chain. 

In May, the Order’s Embassies in Belgrade and Sarajevo, together with its worldwide relief agency, Malteser International, moved quickly to provide assistance and basic necessities after the devastating floods in both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Order’s Hungarian Relief Organisation sent a team to coordinate aid, and launched a fund-raising campaign for the homeless. 

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New Orderof Malta government members

Five-yearly election held in Rome

The Sovereign Council, elected 30 May 2014 for five years
                                   The Sovereign Council, elected 30 May 2014 for five years

Sixty-one representatives of the Sovereign Order of Malta from the continents, including 28 of the Order’s religious, members of the executive branch and heads of the major national bodies met to elect the governing members of the Order of Malta for the next five years. 

The most senior roles
Grand Commander: Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein
Grand Chancellor (Head of the Executive Branch and Foreign Minister): Albrecht von Boeselager
 Grand Hospitaller, Minister of Health and of International Cooperation: Dominique de la Rochefoucauld-Montbel
Receiver of the Common Treasure (Finance Minister): Janos von Esterhazy de Galantha

Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing declared: “I am confident that the expertise of the senior members elected to these important strategic posts in the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta will contribute great value as we move forward in this century of significant challenges – social, humanitarian and spiritual - in the 120 countries where we work. I send my best wishes to the newly elected members for their important tasks.”   

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The British Association’s former President, Prince Rupert Loewenstein, dies

Prince Rupert Lowenstein
Prince Rupert Loewenstein
The death has occurred in London of the distinguished former President of the British Association, Prince Rupert Lowenstein, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion, after a long illness borne bravely. 

Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein, Count von Loewenstein-Scharffeneck, born in Spain, brought up in England, educated at St.Christopher's Letchworth and Oxford, was a former banker and financial adviser. His clients, who famously included the Rolling Stones, greatly appreciated his exceptional financial acumen, his sharp intelligence and wise advice, as well as his joie de vivre. He was firm in his opinions, firm in his beliefs, perspicacious, demanding, and never a man to take things quietly. But he was also generous to the church, generous in his hospitality to his friends, and a man of humanity and humour.

 In his time as President of the Association he brought his own brand of vitality and creativity to the role and the Association flourished under his leadership. During those memorable years, 2001-2007, he organised fundraising events, encouraged the Order in its work for the Orders of St John Homes Care Trust and tirelessly promoted the many activities in which members of the Order were involved around the country.  

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Lourdes in rain, in sun and at night

56th international pilgrimage brings thousands; British Association is oversubscribed with members, volunteers, malades

Lourdes, the marial procession wends its way
Lourdes, the marial procession wends its way

It rained and it blew and then the sun shone on the 56th international Lourdes pilgrimage for the Order of Malta. But the typical Pyrenees spring did not deter over 6,000 members, volunteers and malades. 

The British Association’s bookings were over subscribed, with strong support from all the  members and volunteers, and especially many younger ones, who turned out in high numbers and were invaluable with their work with the disabled pilgrims. 

A highlight was the candlelight procession, weaving its way slowly as evening turned to night and all gathered in front of the Notre Dame du Rosaire de Lourdes basilica. 

Photo: Julian Andrews

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Canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II: over 400 Order of Malta volunteers provide medical support

48-hour non-stop assistance in St. Peter’s Square and surrounding areas

 

Volunteers of the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps in Via della Conciliazione, Rome
Volunteers of the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps in Via della Conciliazione, Rome

Heads of state and governments from all over the world, including the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, have taken part in the historic occasion of the canonisation of two popes, John XXII and John Paul II.

Pilgrims in their thousands have flocked to St.Peter’s Square, 2500 police officers and 2500 volunteers have been mobilised, with the Sovereign Order of Malta’s volunteers among them, ready to provide medical assistance and first-aid to the pilgrims.

The Sovereign Order’s first aid post in St.Peter’s Square, operative 365 days a year and staffed with doctors, nurses and specially trained emergency personnel, has drafted in extra volunteers for a 48-hour non-stop service, with five posts around the Square, offering rapid intervention via radio links.

A combination of personal emotion and professional commitment
For this weekend, additional support comes from the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps (CISOM). They have also included a special delegation of volunteers from the Order of Malta’s Polish Association. The Relief Corps has been operating in the areas outside the Square and in Via della Conciliazione, on-duty tasks running non-stop from 8.30 on Saturday until 20.30 on Monday 28 April.

‘We are honoured to offer our service once again at a historic religious event,’ says Mauro Casinghini, National Director of the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps, ‘as we did for the funeral of John Paul II in 2005 and his beatification in 2011. In ensuring first-aid services for the faithful, for all of us it is a combination of personal emotion and professional commitment.’

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Food and friendliness for those in great need

In response to the rise in homelessness in Britain, the British Association, together with the Companions of the Order of Malta and the OMV (Order of Malta Volunteers) has launched soup kitchens in three major British cities. In one area of central London, homeless guests queue up for welcome food parcels.

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Bailiff Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, former Chancellor of the British Association, genealogist, historian, dies

Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick
Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick
The death has occurred in Edinburgh after a long illness of Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion in Obedience, a most distinguished former Chancellor of the British Association of the Order of Malta. 

As a highly capable administrator for the Order’s growing membership and involvement in charitable activities, he encouraged the Order ’s involvement in care homes in Britain – there are now 77 - and established the Scottish Delegation of the Order, which works to provide a meals on wheels service in mid Scotland. His authoritative researches as a genealogist, and his ability as an author and editor in this chosen and much loved subject, also meant he was sought after from far afield. 

A genealogist, an expert on Order history and traditions, former company director and stockbroker, Peter Drummond-Murray was a man of firm opinions, with a deep commitment to the Order, an encyclopaedic knowledge of genealogy and heraldry as well as history, an author and an editor, all brought together with an acute sense of humour enjoyed by his wide circle of friends, who read his many and varied missives over the years with great delight. These communications were written in splendid calligraphy with a broad black nib; undaunted by the arrival of the computer, Drummond-Murray simply transferred his inimitable style into a large type, bold online copperplate font. 

His recent decoration as Bailiff Grand Cross, which recognised a lifetime of devotion and commitment to the Order of Malta, gave him great pleasure, as it did his many friends. His own personal, unsung works to help those in need were carried out with humility and modesty.  

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Rwanda genocide 20th anniversary: the Order of Malta remembers victims and survivors

Minister for Humanitarian Action recounts the Order’s involvement and calls for an international role of prevention

Rwandan children at an Order of Malta refugee camp, DR Congo
Rwandan children at an Order of Malta refugee camp, DR Congo

‘Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide is an important occasion to reflect on the pivotal role the international community must play in preventing such dreadful crimes,’ states the Order’s Minister for Health and Humanitarian Affairs, Grand Hospitaller Albrecht von Boeselager. 
‘The Order of Malta will continue to play its role, thanks to its independent, apolitical and neutral nature to build bridges of understanding and dialogue,’ says Boeselager, drawing attention to the importance of humanitarian diplomacy in facing the challenges of the 21st century. 

Humanitarian aid from the Order 
The first teams of the Order of Malta arrived in northern Rwanda in the region of Byumba shortly after the massacre started. Medical emergency relief was provided for over five months to about 30,000 internally displaced persons in three different camps. In the district of Kiziguro, north of Kigali, in November 1994 staff from the Order of Malta started the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the local medical facilities, including the district hospital in Kiziguro and seven destroyed health centres. In addition basic health care was provided to about 150,000 inhabitants. 
The Order* began its work in the regions of Goma and Bukavu in the DR Congo where 1.3 million Rwandan refugees had fled. Here between the end of July 1994 and January 1995 Order of Malta teams worked to re-establish water plants and provide medical emergency relief and basic health care to the refugees. From November 1996 to February 1997, due to fighting between Congolese army and Hutu rebels, more than a million Rwandan refugees were forced to flee the camps in DR Congo and Tanzania. Order of Malta volunteers provided water supplies for the refugees returning to Rwanda. 

Rwanda: the background 
In April 1994, members of the Hutu majority in Rwanda organised and implemented the mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority. In just 100 days over 800,000 Tutsi were slaughtered - 10,000 killed each day, 7 every minute. The genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994. 

The Order today in Africa 
‘Today we commemorate the victims of Africa’s greatest genocide in modern history and pay tribute to those who survived and still bear the consequences, both physical and psychological, of this atrocity,’ Boeselager declares. ‘While condemning every act of violence, the Order of Malta remains present in more than 30 African countries – including Central African Republic and South Sudan – working to provide medical and humanitarian assistance in accordance with its thousand years of caring for those in need.’ 
The Sovereign Order of Malta recently nominated its own permanent representative to the African Union. 

* In 2005 the Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta, ECOM, developed into the worldwide relief agency of the Order of Malta, Malteser International. 

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Caped crusaders: What really goes on at the Knights of Malta's secretive headquarters?

'The Independent' newspaper goes to Rome to find out

From the Independent newspaper, 29 March 2014, front page
  

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Ukraine: Order of Malta international relief services on standby

Humanitarian consequences of social crisis

Order of Malta volunteers istributing soup in Maidan, kiev
Order of Malta volunteers distribute soup in Maidan, Kiev

‘More and more Ukrainians are in need of relief as state agencies cut back support for social services because of the country's weakened economy, and many are looking to the Order of Malta’s Ukrainian Relief Corps for help,‘ says Ingo Radtke of Malteser International , the Order of Malta’s international relief agency. ‘We are observing the situation closely, ready to support our Ukrainian partners on the ground in case of escalation.’ 

Soup kitchens in Kiev serve 350,000 hot meals, 250,000 gallons of tea in 3 months 
Since December, the Order of Malta has been running two field kitchens on Independence Square (Maidan), Kiev, the main site of clashes between protesters and government troops. By the end of February, they had served 350,000 hot meals and 250,000 gallons of tea. The kitchens continue to operate nearly around the clock every day. 

Neighbouring Order of Malta relief organisations on alert 
The Order's relief organisations in neighbouring countries are on alert to provide assistance as needed. In recent weeks, the Order of Malta Relief Service in Poland has been supporting the evacuation of injured Ukrainians, brought to Polish hospitals for treatment. The Order in Germany has supported the Ukrainian organisation for over 20 years; and donated the field kitchens. 
Maidan, kiev-Order of Malta soup kitchen volunteer
Maidan, kiev-Order of Malta soup kitchen volunteer
An escalation of the conflict could lead to the collapse of the Ukrainian Order of Malta Relief Corps' social services to people in need in western and central Ukraine – the poor, the sick, the disabled. With 200 volunteers and 15 staff they are providing a daily warm meal for 150 seniors in Lviv, regular assistance for 50 disabled in Ivano-Frankiwsk, and care for a number of children's homes in West Ukraine. Their Christmas campaign brought gifts to more than 8,000 children living in 50 orphanages. But economic hardship is biting, and donations to the organisation have dropped significantly.

Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity - without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work.
 For more information: www.malteser-international.org  and www.orderofmalta.int  

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Three years of war in Syria: over 130,000 dead, 2.5 million refugees

The Order of Malta’s international relief agency, Malteser International, expands medical aid inside the country

Syria-in the refugee camp outside Aleppo
Syria-in the refugee camp outside Aleppo

As the Syrian civil war enters into its third year, Malteser International is intensifying its medical relief efforts for refugees inside Syria. Three new mobile health stations are being deployed to Syrian camps near Aleppo, in the northern border region with Turkey, where they will provide medical care for 50,000 Syrians. The organisation will also distribute 50,000 relief packages to the camps’ residents, as well as to 1,500 displaced families in the Damascus region, working in cooperation with its local partner, the International Blue Crescent (IBC).

New clinics bring medical aid, relief packages, food
 “Working inside Syria remains challenging, but the humanitarian needs are immense,” says Oliver Hochedez, emergency relief coordinator at Malteser International. “The camp residents are in dire need of health care, but most of the medical facilities in and around Aleppo are either destroyed, abandoned or operating above capacity. With our additional clinics, those who need immediate medical attention don’t have to walk for hours to cross the border into Turkey, and this could save their lives.”

The clinics will operate inside Syria in internally displaced camps which will host up to 50,000 people. The camps are located near the Turkish border town of Kilis, where Malteser International supports the local hospital with a 28-bed field clinic together with IBC. Two ambulances will be available to transport patients in critical condition to the hospital.

The camp residents and families in Damascus will also receive relief packages containing food, hygiene and household items. The German Federal Foreign Office supports the project financially.

The inescapable consequences
In the three years since the start of the Syrian conflict, nearly one in three Syrians had to leave their homes, and more than 130,000 people have died, including 11,000 children. 2.5 million Syrians are refugees. Malteser International has provided emergency relief to Syrians inside Syria, in Turkey and in Lebanon since July 2012.

Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity – without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int

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International women’s day: Gray Po’s story and how she helped to bring clean water to her village

In a project managed by Malteser International in northern Thailand villagers live a healthier life

Gray Po in her village in northern Thailand
Gray Po in her village in northern Thailand

My name is Gray Po. I was born in No Pa Poo. It’s a little village in northwest Thailand. I’ve lived here all my life. I own a small grocery store. From that income, I have to take care of three children. My husband died several years ago, so I manage my household by myself.

Two years ago, the international relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Malteser International, came to my village to help us improve our living conditions. They even came during rainy season, when access is limited. That is when I thought: they must really want to help my village.

As I wanted to help improve our community too, I joined the “WASH committee” they created to be responsible for the water, sanitation and hygiene projects in our village. We had two urgent projects: the protection of our water source and the construction of latrines. We had discussed these for many years but we didn’t know how to organise them – no knowledge and no resources.

As a result, lots of changes have happened to me and our little village. We finally have plenty of clean water to drink.

Before now, I had to walk up a hill to a water tap that I shared with two other households. Often I had to go there at least three times a day – and more if I had to feed my pigs or do laundry. I carried the water in hollow bamboo trunks in a bag on my back. It was very heavy, and I was in pain every evening. The water was dirty –but I drank it anyway as I didn’t know I had a choice.

Malteser International explained that the water source we were using was open and not protected. Now we’ve built a fence around the area, covered the water source and installed pipes to our houses. So I just have to turn on the tap at home and clean water flows out!

The new latrines were also a big improvement to our lives. Before, we all had to walk to the nearby forest. Often people were bitten by mosquitoes or even snakes. In the rainy season, when the ground is slippery, I fell many times. But now, I have a roofed latrine next to my house just for me and my children.

But biggest change is the knowledge I have gained through the Order of Malta. We always struggled  with diseases such as diarrhorea. We didn’t know how they occurred and how to prevent them. I have learned a lot about hygiene and health, such as washing hands, boiling the water before drinking, and covering the food. We haven’t had another case of diarrhoea in our house since.

I am very proud I contributed to these changes. During the campaigns, I cooked for my neighbours who installed the pipelines and also helped carry pipes, rocks and sand to protect the spring. Our new project, managed by the villagers, is to equip every house with electricity.

Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity – without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int

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Grand Master addresses packed audience at the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy

Oxford University
Oxford University

It was standing room only last evening in the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy to hear Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing talk to students about the work of the Order of Malta around the world and the humanitarian problems the Order is engaged in tackling. He illustrated his talk with a series of photographs showing a wide range of the Order’s ‘on the ground’ assistance at natural catastrophes, civil conflicts, refugee camps, first aid at large public events, hospices and clinics in all of the world’s continents. ‘We are there – in 120 countries - to help the poor, the sick, the lonely, the victims of devastation,’ he said, ‘caring for those in need, whoever they are and wherever they come from. Our mission is almost a thousand years old.’

Earlier in the day, the Grand Master had met with members of the Companions of the Order of Malta in Oxford, who gave an overview of the works they have established there since startup in 2011. Programmes include the recently launched ‘shower project’ to which the homeless can come for a shower, toiletries, and clean clothes, as well as food, drinks, newspapers and company. The Companions also have three soup and sandwich runs to the homeless each week, serving around 70 a week and organise visits to the elderly in the local area. For more information: www.orderofmalta.org.uk/companions  

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His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols

The Order of Malta in Britain congratulates His Eminence

His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols

The Order of Malta in Britain congratulates His Eminence Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nichols on his creation as Cardinal by His Holiness Pope Francis I. His Eminence was one of 19 cardinals created by Pope Francis at the Consistory of 22 February 2014 in the Vatican.

In the afternoon, His Eminence was greeted by family, friends and parishioners, including members of the Order of Malta, who had travelled to Rome to be present at the splendid celebrations. In keeping with tradition, the greetings were open to all who wished to pay their respects.

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10,000 volunteers across France collect for World Leprosy Day

Ordre de Malte France runs nationwide campaign annually

Volunteers on a Paris street collect for World Leprosy Day
Volunteers on a Paris street collect for World Leprosy Day

World Leprosy Day: Ordre de Malte France has a special focus in treating and assisting victims of leprosy (Hansen’s disease). They inspired 10,000 volunteers across France to collect funds all weekend, aiming to match last year’s sum of 740,000 Euro.

The World Health Organization (WHO) data for 2012 reports almost 233,000 new cases in some hundred countries. Ten percent were children. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment in a specialised centre are still the keys to tackling the disease. Polichemotherapy – chemotherapy involving simultaneous administration of several agents – can guarantee total recovery.

Ordre de Malte France centres in Africa
Ordre de Malte France works in 17 countries through 20 specialised facilities. One of these is the Order of Malta’s Hospital Centre in Dakar (CHOM), the only unit treating leprosy patients in Senegal and West Africa. Ordre de Malte France also trains medical and health-care personnel and some 500 African, French, Vietnamese and Cambodian doctors have been trained in the Dakar centre.

In 2006 Ordre de Malte France set up a scientific research programme (MALTALEP) to examine the genetic causes of the disease.

World Leprosy Day: Ordre de Malte France has a special focus in treating and assisting victims of leprosy (Hansen’s disease). They inspired 10,000 volunteers across France to collect funds all weekend, aiming to match last year’s sum of 740,000 Euro.

The World Health Organization (WHO) data for 2012 reports almost 233,000 new cases in some hundred countries. Ten percent were children. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment in a specialised centre are still the keys to tackling the disease. Polichemotherapy – chemotherapy involving simultaneous administration of several agents – can guarantee total recovery.

Ordre de Malte France centres in Africa
Ordre de Malte France works in 17 countries through 20 specialised facilities. One of these is the Order of Malta’s Hospital Centre in Dakar (CHOM), the only unit treating leprosy patients in Senegal and West Africa. Ordre de Malte France also trains medical and health-care personnel and some 500 African, French, Vietnamese and Cambodian doctors have been trained in the Dakar centre.

In 2006 Ordre de Malte France set up a scientific research programme (MALTALEP) to examine the genetic causes of the disease.

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Pioneer of the hospice movement and senior administrator of the Order of Malta in Britain honoured in moving ceremony

Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick is invested

Peter Drummond Murray of Mastrick was invested on Saturday in Edinburgh with the highest insignia of the Order of Malta, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion in Obedience, in recognition of a lifetime of devoted service to this thousand year-old Christian charity. 

Surrounded by family and friends, who gathered to hear the citation presented by the Grand Prior of England, Fra’Ian Scott of Ardross Creagan, Drummond Murray recalled his time setting up the hospice, which he was inspired to establish by Dame Cicely Saunders. It was the second in Britain and encouraged the development of the hospice movement, now recognised as an essential nationwide provision for the sick and terminally ill. He went on to encourage the Order of Malta’s involvement in care homes in Britain – there are now 77, and he established the Scottish Delegation of the Order, which works to help the poor and the sick in Scotland, provides a meals on wheels service in mid Scotland, visits the lonely and elderly housebound, and fundraises every year to continue their support for those in need. 

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Grand Master addresses the Order of Malta diplomatic corps

Annual event traces worldwide humanitarian diplomatic activities

the grand Master addresses the Order's Diplomatic Corps
The Grand Master addresses the Order's Diplomatic Corps

The Grand Master of the Order, Fra’Matthew Festing, as part of his annual address, today acknowledged the many excellent projects the Order carries out around the world with the invaluable help and support of its Ambassadors, a unique humanitarian diplomatic network. He thanked them for their work and noted that the ties that bind their countries to the Sovereign Order are ties of friendship as well as commitment.

The Grand Master receives the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Sovereign Order of Malta for the annual audience every January. This year the audience took place at the Magistral Villa on the Aventine Hill.

Click here for the full text

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The comfort of food and friendliness

Order of Malta London soup kitchens are busy all winter long

The week's volunteer group poses fo The camera
The week's volunteer group poses for the camera

The nights are cold, gloomy, wet, as the homeless line up beside the Order of Malta van in Lincoln’s Inn Fields each week; or as many move into the warmth of the Order’s soup kitchen recently established in the crypt of St James’s Spanish Place for food and comfort. Both locations are staffed by Order of Malta volunteers who come from all walks of life and all parts of London to play their part in giving help to the homeless and destitute.

'It’s never a problem to have enough volunteers,’ says organiser Patrick Knollys. ‘We are delighted at the response to our call for help and very grateful to the West End food suppliers who are supporting this important project. Homelessness is a problem in all major cities. Here in London, we aim to give a little cheer and a little comfort to all who come to us.’

A guest checks in for much needed supplies
A guest checks in for much needed supplies

 

 

The lineup gets long on winter evenings
The lineup gets long on winter evenings

Photos: Julian Andrews

 

 

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