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Grand Chancellor at Munich Security Conference: protect humanitarian workers

The Sovereign Order of Malta hosted the high level side event at the 60th Munich Security Conference on 16 March: “Protecting the protectors: Upholding the safety of humanitarian workers in conflict zones”. Grand Chancellor Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo appealed for the protection of humanitarian aid workers in conflict zones: “The Order of Malta truly believes that deliberate attacks against health facilities and relief operators are indeed crimes against humanity.

“Our Order, with its international status, has devoted all its existence, more than 900 years now, to demonstrate that the meaning of its humanitarian diplomacy is to provide assistance to all those in need, irrespective of their origin, gender, or belief.”

High-level speakers participating in the side event: Lebanon’s prime minister Najib Mikati called for the protection of humanitarian workers and civilians, addressing in particular the conflict in the Middle East. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon drew attention to the dramatic figures on casualties among humanitarian staff: 127 relief operators killed each year, from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, DRC, Ukraine, and now in Gaza where at least 167 aid workers have been killed in the recent months.” IOM Executive Director, Amy Pope, and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger both stigmatized the increased risks faced every day by humanitarian workers –  more and more targets of hate speech and direct attacks – and by the millions of people on the move. UNHCR Secretary General Filippo Grandi described these actions as  a direct product of the increasing violation of International Humanitarian Laws. “In a world in which respect for International Law is decreasing by the month, the number of displaced people is rising. There are around 114 million displaced in the world,” he said, adding that this is probably a conservative figure.

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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.

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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.

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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.