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Third Committee - Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Mister Chair,


The Sovereign Order of Malta is grateful for the opportunity to address the Third Committee on the agenda item the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children. The Order is active in 120 countries providing medical, humanitarian, and social assistance through its national associations & volunteer corps and its relief arm Malteser International. The welfare of children continues to be one of our foremost priorities.

The Order shares a particular concern for those children comprising more than half of the world’s 65 million displaced, including those unaccompanied or separated [1]. In a single 5-day period this June, our medical team aboard the Italian Coast Guard vessel Dattilo provided medical attention to 274 migrants, including 60 unaccompanied minors, rescued off the Libyan coastline. These are just among the most recent of the over 55,000 migrants the Order has cared for at sea and on land in joint operations with the Italian Navy and Coast Guard since 2008.

Around the world, the Order continues its commitment to serving the physical, material, and psychosocial needs of migrant and refugee children. In Germany, where 1 in 3 refugees are supported by the Order, we maintain 140 facilities for 44,000 persons. In France, we provided language courses to 800 children over the past year, facilitating insertion into local society. In Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and in Northern Syria, Malteser continues to support pediatric hospital and mobile medical units serving refugees children, including 2,400 newborns born in our health facilities. In Wau, South Sudan, the Order is providing food for thousands of internally displaced children and rehabilitating the water supplies to their schools. And in Bangladesh, we operate three health stations in refugee camps providing basic medical care and therapeutic feeding for malnourished Rohingya children.

Undernourishment also continues to be a major focus of our programmes. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malteser in cooperation with the World Food Programme provides food aid for displaced and malnourished children in Ituri and Haut Uele provinces. In Namibia, our embassy provides 350 meals a day for orphaned newborns and children. We operate child malnutrition units in many of our hospitals, such as in Maracha, Uganda. And in remote areas where there is no hospital, as in parts of Togo and Benin, our nutrition nurses travel to villages treating undernourished children where they live.

Lastly, caring for the sick child in our hospitals and clinics and for children with disabilities remains central to our 900-year old mission. Because the paramount right of the child is the right to survive, develop, and flourish, the Order maintains a special focus on newborns and their mothers. In Bethlehem in the West Bank, the Order’s Holy Family Hospital delivers 70% of babies in the district, offering the women in the region, many living in poverty, the opportunity to give birth under safe and modern conditions. The hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit is the only one in the district capable of saving newborns at extreme prematurity and its mobile medical van provides pre-natal care to remote Bedouin communities. We provide maternity and pediatric services in our health centers in Chad, and in Antananarivo, Madagascar, our Sainte Fleur Pavillion delivers 2,500 babies annually and treats children with infectious diseases. In Mtendeli, Tanzania, we constructed a maternity unit serving mothers and newborns among 250,000 Burundian refugees and have plans to construct another in 2018. We also continue our commitment to children with disabilities. In northern Albania, we have opened up a center for Roma children with developmental disabilities. In Lebanon our new “Project Toufic” ensures the right to education to a group of children who suffer from severe mental disabilities.

 The Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1924) states that: “The child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed… and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored.” Providing for the needs of such children remains a core part of the Order’s mission of offering healing to the sick and protection to the poor and vulnerable, as it has for over 900 years.

The Order today reaffirms the commitment of our 13,000 members, 80,000 volunteers, and 20,000 medical and relief professionals to the promoting the right of the hungry child to food, the sick child to health, and the displaced or abandoned child to shelter and protection.

Thank you.



[1] UNHCR: http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2016/ (last visited October 5, 2017).