Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St John of Jerusalem of
Rhodes and of Malta


Ukraine two years later. Order of Malta’s constant commitment

Ukraine two years later. Order of Malta’s constant commitment

Two years ago today, the Russian army attacked Ukraine; since then, 6.4 million people have fled abroad, 14.6 million need assistance and 3.7 million are internally displaced. Military force still prevails over diplomacy, despite the steady increase in appeals for peace. As we enter the third year of the war, the situation is changing. Russia’s aggression is forcing all humanitarian organizations – including the Order of Malta – to seek a new way to reach people in need of assistance and at the same time to protect their own personnel.

The Order of Malta took action immediately after the start of the conflict with a huge joint effort, the most impressive since World War II, by all its Associations, Relief Corps and volunteers, to bring every kind of aid to Ukraine. This is a country where the Order boasts over 30 years of humanitarian commitment and with which it has recently celebrated 15 years of diplomatic relations.

It has provided medical and psychosocial support, as well as safe shelters for displaced persons in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Thousands of tons of food and humanitarian goods have been transported to Ukraine and distributed to some 70 locations countrywide. Under the coordination of Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s organisations have guaranteed healthcare logistics since the beginning of the war in February 2022, distributing food at border crossings, in the shelters and railway stations. As the conflict evolved, relief efforts extended to the eastern and southern regions, supplying over 300,000 people with crucial supplies such as food and generators.

Pavlo Titko, head of Malteser Ukraine in Lviv, has seen a significant change in the organization’s approach over the past two years. “The first year we worked at a completely different pace. We rushed to help where needed most. Now, after two years of conflict, our approach has evolved into a more strategic and long-term commitment. What used to be a sprint has now become a marathon. We’ve had to learn to prioritize, recognizing that our capacity is not infinite. And we’re not just rescuers, we’re also victims. Our family and friends are fighting in the war, some of our relatives are dead. It’s very difficult and exhausting to focus on work while personal issues are sometimes first in our thoughts. We must constantly muster our forces to continue our work. At the same time,” says Titko “helping others is a strong source of energy and motivation to continue working”.

Every day that passes, the psychological toll of the conflict weighs increasingly on the population, so much so that the offer of psychosocial support has become a milestone in the Order of Malta’s activities. Over the past two years, Malteser International has reached around 67,000 people in Ukraine, offering advice and support through a dedicated team of 70 therapists, with individual sessions, group interventions or via virtual platforms.

The assistance to war victims in Ukraine reflects the Order of Malta’s holistic approach worldwide, which treats both mind and body. A prosthetics centre was opened in Lviv, one of the few in the area, in September 2022. Over the last 12 months, 215 high-tech prostheses have been supplied; they are free and can be made not only for walking, but also for running and swimming.

Alongside this concrete humanitarian intervention, from the very beginning there has been an ongoing diplomatic effort. Last September, in the context of the debate on Ukraine, Grand Chancellor Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo gave a speech to the UN Security Council: “There is no easy solution to this conflict, but peace remains the only way out of this tragic situation. We are aware that the process could be long, difficult and painful, but there is no alternative if we want to stop as soon as possible the enormous human suffering and the negative economic and social repercussions of the war on a global level”.

It is estimated that around 10,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in this war, including over 500 children. The wounded number just under 20,000, of which about 1,200 are children. It is estimated that some 200,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died or are wounded.