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Pope Francis

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Order of Malta at the UN: Religious NGOs are critical in emergency areas

2015-05-30

Religious NGOs have become critical to helping people recover from wars or natural disasters throughout the world.

That was the main message from the Order of Malta's Grand Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, as he spoke at a UN meeting in Geneva. The world faces new challenges and caring for refugees is one of them. It is estimated that there are over 40 million refugees globally.

ALBRECHT F. VON BOESELAGER
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Order of Malta
"We have to start a discussion and brainstorm how we can deal with this new situation and develop new means and instruments to improve humanitarian reaction.”

The Order of Malta gathered for a conference at the UN headquarters in Geneva. Representatives of humanitarian organizations of different religions also attended. They stressed the advantages these NGOS have: For one, they are known by locals and are very sensitive to their customs. It enables to have the local's respect.

HANI EL-BANNA
Co-Founder of Islamic Relief 
"There are a lot of good stories but has none have been heard by the media. The media only pick up on the negative ones.”

GRAND RABBI MARC RAPHAËL GUEDJ
President, Racines and Sources Foundation
"In Israel there is an organization that is not welcomed by the government, even though it addresses the problems of the minorities.”

One Lebanese woman said that nurses from the Order of Malta who serve refugees generate confusion among those who have been exposed to religious fanaticism. They're surprised by Christians helping Muslims. 

OUMAYMA FARAH RIZK
Order of Malta (Lebanon)
"Fanatics use religion to create wars. But their limits are when they see the cross and the veil combined together.”

Also present was Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva. The conference was organized to prepare for the world's largest meeting on humanitarian aid. That conference is being organized by the UN and will take place in Istanbul in May 2016.


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