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Order of Malta Australia


Syria: Malteser International aids people fleeing from Aleppo


225 tents and a mobile medical center erected in no man’s land

Tens of thousands of people remain trapped at the Turkish-Syrian border. Camps are being set up in the no man’s land between Turkey and Syria to save as many of them as possible from having to spend the cold nights in the open. Malteser International has provided 225 family tents, which were erected yesterday by its Syrian partner organization. On Sunday, they also began operating a mobile medical center to provide care and treatment to the stranded people. Despite an urgent appeal from the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, that the Turkish government open the border to Syrians fleeing from the Aleppo region, the crossing at Oncupinar remains closed.

The Turkish government is determined to alleviate the suffering of the displaced people with the cooperation of local and international aid organizations. “Providing aid to such a large number of people is an enormous logistical challenge, especially in the context of the difficult security situation,” reported Dr. Shaheen Haque, Malteser International’s Program Coordinator, from the Turkish border city of Kilis. “We are dealing with people who have been living in a warzone for years, where most of the medical infrastructure has been systematically destroyed. Many of them have had to flee more than once, and the medical condition of in particular the children, pregnant women and the elderly is often very poor.”

The capacity and preparation required to provide even more fleeing people with shelter and care is noticeably lacking on the Syrian side. During the course of the war, many of the existing camps for displaced people in Syria have become little more than disordered tent cities, where aid can only be delivered sporadically. “Again and again, we have seen poor hygiene, a lack of rubbish and waste removal, and poor quality floor construction in the tents. If a great deal more people are going to be given shelter in the border region, they will need new camps. Although being trapped in no man’s land is not a long term solution, at the moment there is no alternative, and we need to save the lives of as many of those who are fleeing as possible,” said Dr. Haque.

The German Federal Foreign Office has released 200,000 euros for Malteser International’s emergency response measures.

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The Australian Association, formed in 1974, currently has in excess of 300 members and aspirant members across every State and Territory of Australia. We also have ongoing and strong links with the Order’s National Associations throughout the Asia Pacific Region including in Singapore and the Philippines and with members of the Order in New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Thailand and Korea. The Order of Malta is committed to serving Our Lords the Poor and Sick worldwide and has done so for over 900 years. This website shares with you the history, mission and current activities of the Order of Malta in Australia, and provides links to the work of the Order world-wide.