Home > News Area > News Archive

News Archive - 2006

(Please visit our Current News page for more recent news and events)

Lebanon: appeal tops 131,000 Euro

London, 23 December 2006

Since the launch of the British Association's appeal for Lebanon, over €131,000 (approximately £89,000) has been raised here to help the victims of the July-August war in the Lebanon., where 1200 died, over 400 were injured, 1 million internally displaced persons needed help, 15,000 houses were destroyed, roads and bridges smashed.

The Order's three southern most health centres at Yaroun, Siddikine and Marjeyoun, badly damaged by bombardments, are now under reconstruction and full services are operating, thanks to the funds they have received from us and others, providing medical and social care to the local population. The Order has also undertaken to help rehabilitation of the 18 damaged churches in the region.

The Order's seven health centres further north were able to carry on services throughout the war, coping with the huge influx of those fleeing from the war-torn region, seeking shelter and care.

If you would like to help, especially in our Christian season of Christmas, please send your donation to the British Association's Foreign Service.


Milan, 25 October 2006

The Catholic University of Milan has awarded Fra' Andrew Bertie, Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, the Matteo Ricci international award, sponsored by the Faculty of Political Science. The Grand Master gave a lectio cathedrae magistralis entitled 'The Order of Malta: solidarity as a bridge between the West and East'.

In presenting the award, Prof. Alberto Quadrio Curzio, Dean, Faculty of Political Science, said: "In his government of the Order Fra' Andrew Bertie has always demonstrated total dedication to the values of solidarity and to the promotion of the human person, combined with the highest professional competence. Fra' Andrew Bertie is a great example of that spirit of harmony so necessary for the development of peoples, notwithstanding with their different cultures and religions. In this way, he is carrying on the tradition of Matteo Ricci's work in the 16th and 17th century."

The Rector, Lorenzo Ornaghi, acknowledged the Order's 900 year old commitment to works of charity, regardless of religion, race, origin or age and declared: "The Knights of Malta demonstrate how the universal tradition of Catholicism can be used to give tangible results in the dialogue between different religions and cultures."

Matteo Ricci, S.J. (1552-1610) was a pioneer of cultural relations between China and the West, and his profound appreciation of Chinese cultural and moral values enabled him to make China known to the West and the West to China. Ricci was a scientist, geographer, philosopher, teacher. He expounded a synthesis of the human and moral values in Chinese culture and the integral gospel message - a method which anticipated the pastoral approach of the Church today.


Rome, 31 August 2006

With the clearing of rubble from the main roads in the south, the Lebanese Association of the Order of Malta has been able to deliver a full load of medicines to Bekaa valley, an area severely attacked during the war. Supplies are urgently needed: at the centre in Barka doctors had to ration medicines in the last days of the fighting. Organised by the Order's French Association, Malte Liban and Ordre de Malte France, the delivery - six tons of medicines - is currently being distributed. Meanwhile, the German Association continues its financial support of the Barka centre, which it has done for a number of years, and the Order's health care centre in the heavily damaged village of Siddikine near Cana has at last been able to restart its work. The Lebanese Association runs the centre in this mixed Muslim-Christian area in cooperation with the Shiite 'Imam Sadr Foundation'and employs doctors and nurses of all the four major religious groups.

Order of Malta team on the ground
Last week an Order of Malta team of specialists, from a number of National Associations under the umbrella of Malteser International, the Order's worldwide relief service, visited destroyed towns and villages. Six Lebanese Association health care centres were visited in south Lebanon. Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International reports that it is "an unbelievable scene of destruction," adding: "The chronically ill urgently need their regular medical treatments and the population is also experiencing traumatic responses. The local children panic when they hear the sound of an aeroplane."

The specialist team looked over the totally destroyed health care centre in Yarun on the Israeli border. (See map in following article.) It had suffered many hits during severe fighting. "We will have to tear down the back part of the building, as it is in a dangerous condition," the President of the Lebanese Association, Marwan Senaoui explains. "And the reconstruction of the front will take at least four months and require a strong investment." Over the last traumatic month, the head of Yarun's health care centre, Dr. Raed el-Alam, with just one other medic, was able to provide medical treatment for the population trapped in the village. "The situation was

Aid workers in Lebanon
appalling," el-Alam reports. "For ten days there was no clean drinking water, no bread, no milk for the babies and not enough medicines."

Rehabilitation work has started in the south, where the Lebanese Association is setting up mobile medical teams to provide medical assistance in the damaged villages which currently have nothing.

The British Association of the Order has so far raised close to 80,000 Euro in its Lebanon Appeal. You can help by sending your donation through the British Association's Foreign Service

LEBANON UPDATE: The situation from a humanitarian prespective
A report from the Director of the Order of Malta Foundation, Lebanon

Beirut, 4 August 2006

Military operations, more lethal and crueller every day, are determining the horrific humanitarian situation which the Lebanese people are currently enduring. The volatile situation, as well as the lack of a diplomatic solution to the violence, further aggravates the desperation and fear of the population for their future, or even for survival the next day. The whole world was shocked by the killing of 37 children as well as the adult victims found in the ruins of a building in the biblical town of Cana. (Cana is close to one of the health Centres of the Order of Malta in Siddikine. The Centre had to be abandoned at the start of the fighting.)

The opening of 'humanitarian corridors', achieved through United Nations pressure, has meant that the international aid community has been able to start up relief operations within the country. The operations need further development, and to be adapted to immediate needs. Overland transport and distribution of relief items is carried out when possible in this difficult environment - the security situation changes every hour. The recent 48-hour suspension of shelling slightly improved the freedom of action for the convoys. (We sent a large load of medical drugs to Rmeich in cooperation with the Red Cross. The convoy has been blocked in Tyre. We are waiting for further news.)

The country faces a situation that deteriorates daily. The National Disaster Response Council has given its latest estimate of the number of displaced persons - 914,000 to date, of whom:

128,760 are IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) who have found temporary refuge in 761 schools;

565,000 IDPs are lodging with friends, family or in churches and mosques;

220,000 have fled Lebanese territory as refugees, mainly towards Syria, Jordan and Cyprus;

UNICEF estimates that 50% of the displaced population are children.

The IDPs lodged in schools as temporary shelters are suffering most particularly from the situation because the school buildings are inadequate for the purpose of hosting so many people. There is a lack of sanitation as well as water for hygienic use and a growing risk of the spread of communicable diseases (eg diarrhoea, skin diseases) due to lack of hygiene. The situation is extremely critical.

These are the most urgent problems:

Hygienic conditions in the schools which are being used as temporary shelters.

Most important is to provide water and hygiene kits, to improve water distribution and storage, to secure the decontamination of the sanitary facilities, to provide secure waste-water disposal.

Provision of chlorine for the disinfection of water, especially for babies and children under five.

Provision of powdered milk for new borns; baby food.

Provision of medical drugs.

Provision of mattresses, sheets and blankets.

Food supply for the IDP shelters.

Clothing (adapted to the climate-it is currently 32 degrees; mostly for children).

The distress of those trapped in combat zones, or bordering these zones, remains enormous. Access to these people is extremely difficult. Wherever possible, they try to leave the affected regions; 5,000 who came originally from the surrounding region of Rmeich (total population around 8,000) have left their homes and fled to safer areas. The majority of non-local IDPs who arrived in Rmeich during the first days of the conflict left the region during the 48-hour truce and travelled further north.

Aid workers in the combat zones are showing the first signs of total exhaustion because of lack of staff turnover.

The impending shortage of basic products (food, fuel for generators and electricity, pharmaceuticals, etc.) is being further accelerated by panic-buying of the population. Fuel and oil in particular are becoming more and more difficult to get. There are long waiting periods at gas stations in the non-combat zones. The few operational gas stations are selling a maximum of 15-20 litre per car. The area-wide provision of medical drugs and baby food is still a severe problem.

All public and private hospitals are fully operational and working around the clock with all available resources. In the combat zone, the government hospital in Tyre is still functional, coordinating its work with the hospitals in Saida for the most urgent cases. Three field hospitals have been donated to the Lebanese Ministry of Health. All located in Beirut, they are fully staffed and operational 24 hours a day: the Saudi-Arabia donated hospital is located in the centre of Beirut, that donated by Jordan has been set up in the Verdun quarter and the hospital donated by Egypt is on the campus of the Arabic University of Beirut. The importance of field hospitals is expected to grow when the IDPs return to their places of origin.

The extent of damage, which increases on a daily basis, makes us aware of the challenges that our country and all the NGOs will face after the end of the hostilities, when all IDPs will return and the rehabilitation process starts.

The Order of Malta has focused on providing medical care and pharmaceuticals within the areas of its ten Health Centres (the one exception is the Roum­Jezzine Centre, where, in addition to medical services, the Order is in the process of taking in charge nearly all of the problems faced by 200 families , that is, about 1000 displaced persons in the region).

Action: the Order of Malta has adopted the following operative mode:

1. Ensuring the dispatch of pharmaceuticals The process of convoying the pharmaceuticals to war zones is a significant problem. We are resolving this issue step by step as we go.

2. Providing medical care and pharmaceuticals to different 'displaced Centres' within the boundaries of the zone of the Order of Malta Health Centre.

3. Building a small emergency stock of pharmaceutical products allowing us to continue the provision of emergency medical care of appropriate quality in case of a further aggravation of the situation. The stock is also in preparation for an effective intervention as soon as the IDPs return to their regions of origin.

Using our emergency funds, we are purchasing pharmaceuticals available on the local market. Despite a palpable diminishing of local reserves the market will be able to provide enough pharmaceuticals for about a month, thanks to the arrival of supplies coming from Syria.

Sister Sylvie Toison is responsible for an Order of

SMOM activity in Lebanon.
Malta volunteer emergency medical team. The team is caring for IDPs who do not live within reach of one of the health Centres. Sister Sylvie's mobile clinic has been operational without a break since 31st July.

The situation urgently requires substantial funds to cope with the crisis - for the purchase of pharmaceuticals, for hygiene kits, to cover transport costs and fuel, to pay for the set-up of sanitary facilities in the IDPs centres, etc. (the estimate for one month's expenses for the Order of Malta humanitarian activities: US $ 80,000 ­ 100,000).

The Order of Malta Health Centres working in the affected regions providing medical care and pharmaceuticals are:

SOUTH LEBANON:Yaroun: Rmeich (bordering Israeli frontier)

Marjeyoun (adjacent but not bordering the Israeli frontier)

Roum: caza de Jezzine (bordering combat zone in South Lebanon)

BEKAA: Barqa : (bordering the area of Baalbeck, a war zone)

GREATER BEIRUT: Ain el Remmaneh


The other Order of Malta Health Centres continue to operate at full capacity in their respective regions:

North of Beirut: Health Centre of Zouk Mikhael

West Bekaa: Health Centre of Kefraya

North Lebanon: Health Centre of Kobayat

You can help by sending your donation through the British Association's Foreign Service

Director, Order of Malta Foundation, Lebanon

Lebanon: medical supplies running short

Cologne/Beirut, 27 July 2006

Malteser International communiqué: Currently, the Lebanese Association of the Order of Malta is providing medicines and first aid to more than 2,000 displaced people. "The situation is dramatic, especially in the south," reports Paul Saghbini, director of the Foundation of the Order of Malta in Lebanon. "In Rmeich, close to the Israeli border, the inhabitants and 8,000 displaced people are isolated due to the fighting. Medicines, milk for infants, bread and drinking water are running dangerously low."

The Lebanese Association is providing help for displaced persons through their health centres around the country. Two centres are located in the combat zone in the south. One was damaged during an Israeli air strike and is no longer accessible. Due to panic buying and restricted transportation possibilities the centres are short of medical drugs. Sanitary facilities in the schools where the displaced population is accommodated are insufficient. "Half the refugees are children," Saghbini explains. "We especially care for them, as they are particularly vulnerable to disease." The Order of Malta is concerned about shelter for the refugees when the school year starts again as there will be a problem for the refugees to find accommodation.

Malteser International and the network of the Order of Malta, have so far sent over 120,000 euro to support the work of the Lebanese Association.

Malteser International is the emergency aid arm of the Order of Malta, with fifty years' experience in dealing with medical and social emergencies. You can support their efforts through the British Association's Foreign Service:



Paris, 21 July 2006

The Order's Ambassador to Lebanon, Jacques de Dumast, has sent this comunique:

The escalation of violence in Lebanon has brought dramatic consequences for the civil population. The Order of Malta, which has had a presence in Lebanon for many years, is currently helping the most needy through its network of dispensaries throughout the country.

As the conflict worsens, the Order's 10 dispensaries are faced with an influx of refugees when they themselves are under bombardment, as has already occurred in the dispensary at Siddikine. Medicines are beginning to run out and the risk of a grave humanitarian crisis grows.

The greatest needs now are supplies of medicines, and financial support. You can give help through the British Association's Foreign Service:



Köln/Pangandaran, 18 July 2006

Medical staff of Malteser International are treating injured tsunami victims in a camp near Pangandaran. The homeless, who have lost their houses due to the seaquake, have been found provisional shelters there. "The situation is worse than expected: many of the 5,000 here are injured and in urgent need of first aid. Most have lost relatives and are traumatised," Malteser International doctor Gudrun Müller says. "We are in close contact with the Indonesian authorities and are assessing the kind of help needed, in addition to medical care."

According to the Indonesian media, the seaquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, triggered a flood wave up to 10 metres high which travelled three kilometers inland. About 300 people died. In the vacation resort of Pangandaran, every house near the coast was destroyed.

Since the tsunami of 26 December 2004 Malteser International has been active in Indonesia, and in the area affected by the earthquake around Yogyakarta, from May 2006. In the province of Aceh on Sumatra the organisation is helping to reconstruct villages and health facilities.

Malteser International is the emergency aid arm of the Order of Malta. Headquartered in Cologne, it is supported by the Order's National Associations worldwide. Because of its long-term approach to assisting the suffering, with fifty years of experience in dealing with medical and social emergencies, Malteser International can respond very swiftly to areas of distaster such as natural catastrophes and civil conflict. You can support their efforts through the British Association's Foreign Service: www.justgiving.com/fas/donate

Malteser International's first birthday marks 44% increase in humanitarian projects

Cologne, June 24, 2006

One year after the launch of Malteser International, the Order of Malta worldwide relief service on 24 June 2005, the increase in its activities is striking. Compared to 2004, volume of projects has risen by 44%, with an expenditure of 26.5 million euros in 2005.

In 2005, almost nine million euros were allocated for rehabilitation following the 2004 tsunami; 20 million euros will go towards further rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes in the coming years.

Malteser International currently runs 200 projects in basic healthcare services and poverty reduction in 40 countries in Asia, Africa, America and Eastern Europe. 100 international and more than 800 local staff members work for the organisation. More than 7,000,000 people worldwide have received their help.

Earthquake Indonesia: soaring toll of dead and injured

Malteser International provides 100,000 euros for emergency aid and sends assessment team into Yogyakarta with urgently needed medicines and dressings

29 May 2006 Cologne/Jakarta

As the 'quake toll in the highly populated area around Yogyakata rises above 4,500 dead, with many thousands left injured or homeless, Malteser International assessment team members have arrived on the ground. A mobile clinic with urgently needed drugs, dressings and infusions has reached Bantul today. "The hospital in Bantul, the town in which two thirds of all deaths occurred, is absolutely overrun. Patients lie everywhere, with new cases arriving every minute. None of the hospitals here can cope any more," Volker Stapke, Malteser International project coordinator, describes the situation. "We can't yet calculate how many people are still buried underneath the ruins. The desperate search continues," he said.

Malteser International has already provided 100,000 euros for emergency aid, and will support local hospitals and health care structures with pharmaceuticals and additional medical experts.

The severe aftershocks and the increasing activity of the nearby volcano, Merapi, are also causing great concern to the people in the affected area and to the relief teams.

If you would like to make a donation, you can do so through our Foreign Aid Service. Donating is simple.

Malteser International has been working in Indonesia since the 2004 tsunami in rehabilitation projects and primary health care services. Currently, 12 international and more than 200 local staff members are in action in the tsunami affected region.

Attack on UN convoy: Malteser International staff member killed in Afghanistan

Herat/Cologne, 13 May 2006

A local staff member of Malteser International, the Order of Malta worldwide relief service, was killed yesterday in an attack in northwestern Afghanistan. He was on his way from Quala-I-Nau to Herat with a UN convoy, which was ambushed with rocket-propelled grenades around noon. The driver of the UN vehicle died immediately. 30-year-old Dr Ezmeray, who was head of the health care centre of Malteser International in Quala-I-Nau, was shot as he fled the attack.

"We mourn for Dr. Ezmeray and our colleagues of  UNICEF. Our compassion is with the families of the victims," said Nicolas de Cock Rameyen, President of Malteser International, expressing the condolences of the whole organisation. "We are shocked by this terrible offence."

Because of the tense security situation, all staff members have to comply with strict security standards. Trips in the region are allowed only during the day and with an escort. At the moment, Malteser International staff in Afghanistan is six international employees from Germany, Great Britain, India and Ethiopia and 20 Afghan locals.

Malteser International, created to combine the relief programmes and activities of the Order of Malta and its relief services, and with over 50 years experience in specialised humanitarian aid, has been active in Afghanistan since 2002.


Clare Kalkwarf.

Mandini, South Africa, 6 April

The British Association of the Order has learned with the greatest shock of the murder in her home in Mandini of Clare Kalkwarf, our deeply respected and valued colleague at the Order's Hospice there. Her loss to her patients, friends and colleagues is incalculable. Clare has guided and helped all those at the Hospice, run by the Brotherhood of the Blessed Gerard, for many years. Her work with the mothers, infants, young children, and extended families involved with the Hospice was utterly selfless and tireless.

The British Association offers to her husband and all who knew and admired her, our prayers and our most heartfelt sympathy.

Hospitaller Action Across the Globe

From support for victims of natural catastrophes to sufferers of leprosy or AIDS: the 14th Hospitaller Conference reviews the Order's most recent projects

Dublin, 25 March 2006

Thirty-two leading figures in the charitable activities of the Order --the Order's Hospitallers-- met in Dublin last week to discuss future strategies in their humanitarian aid and to review their work over the past 12 months.

Hosted by the Order's Irish Association, the Grand Hospitaller, Albrecht vonBoeselager, presided over the 14th Conference of European Hospitallers and reaffirmed the Order's mission to help the sick and the poor, without distinction of religion, race, origin or age. He reported that over the last year the Order has given support to thousands of victims of natural catastrophes across the globe --the hurricanes which raged in the Americas, the tsunami which devastated so much of Asia, the floods of Central Europe. And he noted the Order's ongoing concern and action for those suffering from leprosy, a disease still very prevalent in the third world where one person is infected every minute, and from AIDS, where the Order's focus is on mother-and-child care for pregnant women who are HIV positive. He also reported that the 147th annual pilgrimage to Lourdes last May had brought together 5000 knights, dames and handicapped patients.

Each of the Hospitallers, as well as the specialist leprosy and AIDS organisation (International Committee of the Order of Malta - CIOMAL) and the Order's worldwide relief service, Malteser International, outlined their ongoing projects to support the victims of disease or catastrophe, and emphasised their commitment to the Order's mission.

The British Association of the Order reported on the exceptional growth in our care for the elderly through the Orders of St John Care Trust, which now has 76 Homes, 3,300 day care facilities for over 1,000 patients and an annual turnover topping £70,000,000. As well, 2005 saw our largest representation ever at the Lourdes pilgrimage --300 pilgrims and malades.

Our fundraising continued apace over the year, with the strong result enabling us to offer support to those in need, in activities both at home and abroad (most especially to victims of the tsunami in Asia, to HIV positive mothers and infants in South Africa, to the Order's Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, and through our Foreign Aid Service, to the Romanian Flood Appeal, and to a St.Petersburg soup kitchen).

A special feature was a presentation on the Irish Ambulance Corps, which covers the 32 counties of Ireland in 132 ambulances, and concentrates on community care and emergency care. They provide first aid services across the country, and offer training programmes for first-aiders and ambulance workers. Latest development is a Medical Bike Unit which provides rapid response when access is limited in an emergency.


London, 9 February, 2006

Fra' Andrew Bertie.

Under a sunny February sky, and surrounded by members, staff, friends and colleagues, the Grand Master, Fra' Andrew Bertie, opened Coombe End Court, Marlborough, the 60-bed residential home which is the latest in an impressive list of homes now run by the Orders of St John Care Trust (OStJ).

In expressing his gratitude to all involved in this splendid work, Fra' Andrew said: 'I know what an important part in the life of the community these houses play, and I am also very aware of how much love and dedication you all give.' Fra' Andrew told his audience of his conversation with Pope Benedict at a private audience last June and that His Holiness was both pleased and glad to hear of the wonderful work being done here in England and of the close cooperation with the Venerable Order.

In his reply, the Chairman of the Trust, Nigel Stourton, said that those whom we serve deserve, in the tradition of our two sponsoring Orders, pre-eminence. He thanked all who had worked so hard for this day, in particular Diane Bowden, Country Director for Wiltshire, Carol Rickman, and the members of the Wiltshire team.

The lunch that followed the opening ceremony was joyful --and very noisy.

The Trust now has 76 Homes, 3,300 day care facilities for over 1,000 patients, a devoted staff nearly matching the resident population in numbers and an annual turnover now anticipated to top well over £70,000,000.


Rome, 10 January 2006

Each January, the Grand Master receives the members of the Diplomatic Corps of the countries accredited to

A moment during the reception.
the Order (now 94) for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings. The setting is always the Magistral Villa, church of Piranesi, on the Aventine Hill in Rome. This year, the event took place in glorious sunshine.

The Grand Master reviewed the year's activities where the Order 'steadfastly pursued its mission in regions where its structures were already present or were brought in to assist:

- In Afghanistan, where we have had a presence since 2002, we aided the refugee families;

- In Sudan/Darfur, where we have been present for many years, we worked to improve the health system: 420,000 people defined as 'refugees' are currently benefiting from the malaria-prevention programme;

- In Romania, during the July floods;

- In August, during the food shortage in Niger and Mali;

- New Orleans, following the disaster caused by hurricane Katrina;

- Cambodia and Vietnam, with programmes for combatting leprosy;

- and, of course, south-east Asia, where a year after the tsunami, the Order's emergency relief corps, Malteser International, pooling the medical and logistic means of all the Order's National Associations, is working on 65 rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.'

Fra' Andrew especially welcomed the ambassadors who were participating in the ceremony for the first time: the ambassadors of Paraguay, Egypt, Brazil, Jordan, Philippines, Togo, Austria, Guatemala, Seychelles, Malta, Croatia, Lithuania, Cuba and Russian Federation.

He concluded: 'I trust that, with the help of God, the international community will redouble its efforts to foster the dignity of women, men, children and the family, thanks to your indefatigable action as diplomats, as the 'artisans of peace'.'

The diplomatic missions of the Order carry out a delicate task - they are in the unique position of facilitating access to many crisis regions and to their official authorities - an indispensable requirement for competent global help in the 21st century.