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Permanent Observer Mission in Geneva

Order of Malta


Interview with Ambassador Pictet-Althann on key commitments of the Order of Malta’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva


Head of the Order of Malta’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Marie-Thérèse Pictet-Althann tells us about the key engagements of the Order’s Mission in the humanitarian field, from migration to health, and gives us an insight into some of the most significant projects of the Order of Malta in support of women. “In particular in the humanitarian field- which is the focus of the Order’s diplomatic Mission to the United Nations in Geneva- women are often first responders to a crisis. They play a central role in the survival and resilience of families and communities and have a strong ability in promoting dialogue and building bridges” says Marie-Thérèse Pictet-Althann.
It is women and children who become most vulnerable in times of displacement due to man-made or natural disasters.

Most victims of human trafficking are women, their exploitation being primarily sexual. To this end the Order of Malta has recently scaled up its network to combat human trafficking with the opening of a quality shelter in Nigeria for victims of trafficking and with the promotion of initiatives to raise awareness within the international community

“The Order runs a number of projects which are specifically to the benefit of women. The Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem is an outstanding example of high-quality care offered by our medical staff. With 4.500 deliveries each year, it is the only hospital in the region to have a neonatal intensive care unit” says Ambassador Pictet. “Malteser International supports a women’s centre in Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan. The centre offers a space for traumatized women to process their experiences and strengthen each other. Here they attend therapy sessions, learn new vocational skills, take part in sports and leisure activities and slowly find their way back to their normal lives.”

Migration, refugees, humanitarian assistance, health and inter-religious dialogue remain the key areas of commitment of the Order’s Mission in Geneva. “With the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech and the Global Compact on Refugees at the UN General Assembly last December, we have now reached the next step and are working on the implementation of these shared responsibility frameworks, as we all know that forced population movements must be addressed through international cooperation including all stakeholders, i.e. States, intergovernmental and civil society organizations” explains Ambassador Pictet.

Assisting hosting countries, enhancing self-reliance, expanding access to third country solutions and supporting countries of origin for returning in safety and dignity are the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, whereas the Global Compact on Migration presents a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility, including the humanitarian, developmental, human rights-related and other aspects.

Closely Intertwined with forced displacement is the role of faith-based organizations and institutions who can play a very positive role in promoting integration into host communities and peace building. The Order of Malta has been actively engaged in raising awareness on the special contribution given by religious institutions and FBOs, often the first responders to crises and the last to leave. It was an active participant at the World Humanitarian Summit, held in 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. “We are now working to strengthen and unite all those players who share the same vision of humanity, in order to deliver effective relief to populations in distress”, concludes Marie Thérèse Pictet-Althann.

The next event organized by the Permanent Mission in collaboration with the Holy See and other institutions, on “The role of religions in settling conflicts”, will take place on 7 November at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Sovereign Order of Malta

Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations - Geneva 3, place Claparède CH - 1205 Geneva