Tuesday, 15 June 2021, Düsseldorf, NRW, Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia’s Premier Armin Laschet received one of the highest awards granted by the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta at the State Chancellery. He was awarded the Grand Cross “Pro Merito Melitensi” for his refugee-friendly, and migration policy.
“We are very grateful to Premier Armin Laschet for his work and support in recent years in the field of refugee and migration policy. Refugee work is at the centre of our daily work,” said Dr. Erich Prinz von Lobkowicz, President of the German Association of the Sovereign Order of Malta, when awarding the Grand Cross “Pro Merito Melitensi” as per statement below in the German language, and added: “We have come to know and appreciate Armin Laschet as a supporter of Malteser’s concerns, whose political actions are always based upon Christian values.”
Malteser has been working continuously in North Rhine-Westphalia for asylum seekers and refugees since 1991 as the only contractual partner of the state. At present, Malteser works are in charge of ten community shelters in Borgentreich, Echtrop, Hamm, Mönchengladbach, Neuss, Rees (two), Soest, Viersen and Wickede-Wimbern.
Malteser International is an important support for asylum seekers and refugees, especially in the current crises (Corona pandemic/refugee crisis 2015/2016). In this context, Malteser Germany benefits from the good integration of Malteser Werke as a social enterprise with special expertise in the social care of collective accommodation and Malteser Hilfsdienst as a disaster control, relief and voluntary organisation.
During the ceremony, Premier Armin Laschet said: “For many centuries, the work of Malteser has conveyed Christian solidarity and charity, created cohesion and is an indispensable part of our social life. Many thousands of voluntary and full-time Malteser employees work every day for asylum seekers and refugees as well as for weak, sick and lonely fellow human beings and are an important support for them. Malteser International can also be relied on in the Corona pandemic: With 17 vaccination centres in which Malteser International is involved and seven of which it manages independently, Malteser International is making a central contribution to the progress of the largest vaccination campaign in our country and to combating the pandemic. To receive the Grand Cross of the Order of Malta is a great honour for me.”
The Order of Malta, which has had diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany since 2018, awards the Grand Cross of Merit very rarely and only for the fourth time to a premier in Germany. The last time it was awarded was in 2009 to the then Premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Rüttgers.
The Grand Cross “Pro Merito Melitensi” was endowed in 1916. It is awarded exclusively to personalities who have rendered outstanding services to the reputation of Malteser and supported its humanitarian goals.
About the Order of Malta – The Sovereign Order of Malta is a Roman Catholic religious order founded in Jerusalem in 1099, which additionally became a spiritual order of knights after the First Crusade.
Under international law, the Order, which has provided international humanitarian aid since its foundation, is still considered a sovereign, non-state subject of international law. In the latter capacity, the Order also has its own government, sends ambassadors and has its own jurisdiction. The aim of the Order, which today has about 13,500 members internationally, is to provide charitable support worldwide to the elderly, the disabled, refugees, those suffering from terminal illnesses and lepers – regardless of religion or origin.
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