The reception of Ukrainian refugees, the power of volunteering, post-flood intervention and hospital assistance are just some of the major leitmotifs of Grand Hospitaller Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis‘ four-day visit to the Order of Malta’s activities in Germany.
The first day, the Grand Hospitaller visited Kreuzberg in Rhineland-Palatinate, the German region most affected by the flood of July 2021. Heiko Hoffmann, health organisation manager of the Malteser Operations Centre in Rhineland-Palatinate, described what had been done after the devastating floods that summer, costing the lives of nearly two hundred people and causing significant damage.
On Wednesday, after a visit to the headquarters of Malteser Hilfsdienst and Malteser International in Cologne, Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis and his delegation, accompanied by Malteser president Hilfsdienst Georg Khevenhüller and Douglas von Saurma-Jeltsch, president of Malteser International Europe, visited a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees in Brühl-Wesseling, south of Cologne. During the tour of the campus and its facilities the delegation also met Ralph Manzke, mayor of the city of Wesseling. The visit ended in the multifunctional hall of the structure, where the delegation was able to talk to refugees.
On Thursday morning, the Grand Hospitaller attended the “We care for Ukraine” meeting in Engelskirchen, near Cologne. He praised “the excellent work” done by humanitarian organisations under the aegis of the Order of Malta for Ukraine and promised support. “I am here as a representative of the Grand Magistry to say we will help in every possible way”. The aim of the meeting was to coordinate aid, resources and cross-border issues to assist Ukraine in the best possible way during the winter.
Pavlo Titko, head of Malteser Ukraine, expressed his gratitude for the aid provided by the Order of Malta’s humanitarian organizations, both for the Ukrainian people who have remained in the country at war and for those who have taken refuge in other countries. “In Ukraine this help is seen and truly appreciated,” he said. At the same time, he pointed out that the large influx of refugees from Ukraine is now at an end. “Those who are left have no money to flee”. This is why it’s important to focus on aid inside the country. It is still unclear what Christmas will be like in Ukraine, “but it probably won’t be any better than today. And today much of Ukraine is without electricity”. Representatives of OMRO (Order of Malta Relief Organisations) from twelve countries, including France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine, attended the meeting.
At the end of his visit to Germany, the Grand Hospitaller met some forty Malteser personnel and volunteers in Munich and then visited a medical assistance centre for migrants run by Malteser Werke.