The Grand Master received by the President of the Italian Republic in the Quirinal Palace
Relief efforts after the recent earthquake in central Italy, rescuing migrants at sea, the situation in the Middle East and cooperation with the Italian authorities are discussed
The Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, was received this morning in the Quirinal Palace by the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella. Accompanied by the Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Boeselager, and the Grand Hospitaller, Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, the Order of Malta’s delegation was received with military honours after which the President and the Grand Master met for talks.
The meeting started with the Order of Malta’s rescue operations and healthcare/psychological assistance in Amatrice after the 24 August earthquake as well as the deployment of volunteers last night immediately after the two quakes striking the Marche and Umbria regions. President Mattarella was told that an initial team of volunteers from Macerata and Ancona carried out an inspection in Camerino during the night, and this morning other volunteers from Umbria joined those in the Norcia coordination centre run by the Umbria Region with the help of the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps. Meanwhile in Amatrice the sports stadium administered by the Order of Malta has been reopened to accommodate those who didn’t want to sleep in their houses, albeit declared safe.
The doctors and rescue workers of the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps assisting the migrants crossing the Mediterranean on their makeshift boats was another topic discussed. President Mattarella thanked the Grand Master for the Order of Malta’s important contribution. Alongside the Italian Civil Defence – and in virtue of the cooperation agreements signed over the years with Italy – the Order guarantees prompt and essential humanitarian interventions.
The meeting also focussed on the delicate humanitarian situation in Libya and the extremely serious conflicts in the Middle East, with particular concern expressed for the Syrians and Iraqis. The Grand Master illustrated the efforts being carried out in the area by the Order of Malta’s International Relief Agency, Malteser International. With a mobile health unit, the Malteser International staff are assisting those fleeing from Mosul. To cope with the growing number of displaced persons a new mobile unit will be set up over the next few days in the Dohuk region in northern Iraq.
In Italy the Order of Malta administers a hospital in Rome and 14 diabetes centres nationwide. Members and volunteers are actively engaged in the social sphere with the distribution of meals to those in need. The Order of Malta’s Military Corps participates in international peacekeeping operations and provides assistance during natural disasters.