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Ukraine a year later: the invisible wounds left on the young – psychosocial support in a war-torn region: Conference review

Over a hundred participants representing the Order of Malta across the globe gathered this weekend in a Conference in central London to discuss the worlds of care, poverty and social marginalisation in which they operate. A major focus over the last year has been the Order’s psychosocial support for distressed and traumatised citizens in Ukraine, especially children and the young.

The Order of Malta organises an annual International Conference of its hospitallers – the heads of its charitable works who are responsible for its projects in over 100 countries – to share experiences, exchange information, plan future health and social programmes.

This, the 29th Conference, hosted by the British Association of the Order and led by Hospitaller James Pavey, focussed on the demands of leadership in crisis situations and on the importance of safeguarding both the vulnerable and all front line staff. Speakers addressed the conference on themes of epidemiology, the role of vaccines in healthcare, and addressing global challenges.

The Lieutenant of the Grand Master, Fra’ John Dunlap, in opening the Conference: “…Our commitment and service is guided by our solidarity, empathy and compassion for the sick and the poor.” Grand Hospitaller Fra’Alessandro de Franciscis: “…we put on the apron of service [to serve them].” Grand Chancellor Riccardo Paterno’ spoke of: ”… the added values of faith-based diplomacy, which does not have the weapons of traditional diplomacy but is based on the principle that certain higher values can lead to the resolution of conflicts.”

A special session was devoted to an assessment of the Order’s extended involvement in the last twelve months in Ukraine, where the Order has had a presence since 1989. With a wide network of assistance from Order organisations in central and eastern Europe, and the support of Malteser International, the Order’s international relief agency, care continues to be provided for refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as psychosocial support for those suffering trauma from the recent events.

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.