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Emergency relief at Malteser International

Effective emergency relief is crucial worldwide, as millions face the dire consequences of extreme natural disasters and armed conflicts, requiring rapid assistance to survive and cope with these emergencies.

The need for aid in crisis and disaster regions is high and diverse. In countries affected by earthquakes, floods, droughts, or conflicts, people often lack food, shelter, medical care, and future prospects. Many live in poverty or are displaced, and infrastructure is often damaged or destroyed.

Alongside long-term development cooperation, we specialize in providing rapid and effective relief during acute crises. We provide initial medical care in the affected regions, distribute food and other vital relief supplies and take care of water and sanitation. Even during the acute emergency phase, we focus on sustainable development in order to consolidate the livelihoods of the people affected in the long term.

Our work focuses on strengthening local self-help forces, involving the people affected and tailoring aid measures to their specific needs. Our disaster relief always follows the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence as well as international standards. Our aid is therefore neutral and independent of political, religious or ethnic affiliation.


Oliver Hochedez
+49 (0)221-9822-7110
Email: oliver.hochedez(at)malteser-international.org

Our emergency relief in Gaza

Due to the escalating Middle East conflict, the humanitarian situation for the civilian population in the Gaza Strip is life-threatening. The living conditions are catastrophic.

Together with the Order of Malta, Malteser International is working in cooperation with local partners to provide direct humanitarian aid to the population in need on the ground.

Find out more about the situation, our humanitarian work and help the people in need with your donation.

More information about the situation in Gaza & our help

In these situations, our disaster relief efforts are crucial

Malteser International responds to various disasters, providing essential support to those in need. Whether in the aftermath of natural disasters or in conflict and war zones, our mission is to save lives, address immediate needs, and create long-term prospects for affected communities.


Malteser International's Emergency Medical Team (EMT) was deployed to support COVID-19 response efforts in Cameroon after the country saw a rapid rise in cases and requested international assistance. The intervention ensures that healthcare workers treating patients do not become infected themselves and that medical facilities remain free of infection.

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Examples of our disaster relief

Our mission in Poland at the start of the war in Ukraine

As an immediate response to the escalation of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 and in the months that followed, we sent emergency relief experts to the border in Poland to support the medical aid provided by local Order of Malta entities for arriving refugees. We also provided medical supplies, hygiene products and drinking water to meet the basic needs of the refugees as part of our disaster relief efforts with the Order of Malta associations in neighboring countries.

The Ordre of Malta teams provided the arrivals with hot meals in field kitchens and also supported the people in their search for accommodation during this difficult time. At the same time, our emergency relief, in close cooperation with Malteser Ukraine, focused on the transportation and distribution of relief supplies in Ukraine and the psychosocial care of those affected by the war.

Read more about our current aid in Ukraine

Our mission during the earthquake in Türkiye/Syria

Following the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria in February 2023, hundreds of thousands of people were in need of urgent aid due to the massive destruction. We immediately dispatched an emergency relief team to assess the needs and coordinate our emergency relief and provided rapid assistance through our partner organizations on the ground. These organizations provided food and hygiene packages in Türkiye, among other things. In mobile clinics and hospitals in both Türkiye and Syria, we were able to provide healthcare for people and offer free psychosocial support, among other things. In Syria, we also provided the refugees with tent accommodation and access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities through our partners.

More about our aid in Syria More about our aid in Türkiye

How we provide emergency relief worldwide

Not all disaster relief looks the same. How and by whom emergency aid is coordinated and implemented can vary depending on the situation, location and context of the disaster and is decided following detailed assessments. Our comprehensive measures are based on cooperation with local teams, partners and international networks as well as on the expertise of our own pool of experts with over 100 specialists from various disciplines.

When does Malteser International provide emergency relief?

When deciding whether to provide emergency relief, we conduct a thorough situation analysis to ensure that our measures are appropriate and effective. Criteria such as the call for international assistance from the affected country, the security situation, access to those affected and local resources form the basis for our decisions. This enables us to make a substantial contribution - whether with our own resources and structures or in cooperation with local partners. In this way, we ensure that our aid arrives quickly and in a targeted manner where it is most urgently needed.

These are important players in our disaster relief efforts:

Our Headquarters Emergency Relief Team: Malteser International's Emergency Relief Team takes on key tasks to ensure effective and rapid assistance in the event of a disaster. For example, the team is responsible for the education and training of our volunteer emergency relief experts in our Pool of Experts, our Emergency Medical Team (EMT) and the regional Malteser International teams. It develops Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) and strengthens our local partners in emergency relief processes. In addition, the HQ Emergency Relief Team ensures that the EMT and the pool of experts are adequately equipped. In the event of a major disaster, the team coordinates the relief measures and implements them on site. The main tasks of the emergency relief team also include investigating the situation and providing on-site advice, procuring relief supplies and reconstruction measures.

Pool of Experts: Malteser International has built up a "Pool of Experts" of trained and experienced emergency personnel that we regularly send to disaster and crisis areas around the world. In the event of a crisis, these experts are ready for action in the shortest possible time and provide important emergency aid in the affected countries. From the coordination of a refugee camp to the construction of water treatment plants - the experts always work closely with the national authorities and the affected population to ensure that resources are deployed as required.

Emergency Medical Teams (EMT): As a central element of our disaster relief, we have a WHO-certified Emergency Medical Team Type 1. These specialized emergency personnel can be deployed to crisis areas with a self-sufficient tent health station within a maximum of 72 hours to provide life-saving medical assistance. EMTs are specially equipped for self-sufficient operations over a period of around 14 days and provide indispensable support in the first critical days after a disaster.

Local and regional support: Our country offices on the ground play a key role in the coordination and implementation of disaster relief. In the event of local and regional emergencies, our regional teams coordinate and provide emergency relief for people in need in consultation with the HQ emergency aid team. In the event of major disasters, our HQ emergency relief team usually takes over the coordination of the disaster response in order to relieve the teams on the ground.

Strengthening local partners: We are committed to strengthening and supporting our local partner organizations so that they can provide emergency relief independently and act as recognized players in the international aid system. This has many advantages: The teams are already on the ground, know the language and cultural context of those affected in detail and can therefore implement relief measures quickly and in line with their needs. We put particular emphasis on training the actors and building the capacities and resilience of our partners.

Cooperation with global partners: In our operations, close coordination with international partners, including UN organizations, INGOs and NGOs, ensures that our aid is targeted and that no duplication of effort occurs. This cooperation with other aid organizations is essential for us to make optimal use of resources and provide the best possible help to people in need.

Other important aspects and measures in our emergency relief

Anticipatory humanitarian action: The concept of anticipatory humanitarian action (AHA) is a central component of disaster risk reduction. AHA is based on precise forecasts of possible disasters and their effects. As soon as a hazard such as heavy rainfall or drought is predicted with a high probability, an Early Action Protocol (EAP) is initiated. This protocol defines exactly what measures need to be taken to prevent humanitarian crises or reduce their impact. This also includes training local teams in emergency preparedness in order to improve their ability to respond.

Contingency planning: As part of contingency planning, we develop detailed action plans in order to be able to respond appropriately to various crisis situations. These plans are regularly reviewed and adapted in order to always meet the current challenges. In this way, we ensure that certain strategies and precautions are not only taken when disaster strikes, thus saving important time in the event of an emergency. 

Education and training: The continuous education and training of our emergency services is crucial in order to be able to help effectively in emergency situations. Training and exercises such as the international emergency aid simulation exercise EU Module Exercises (MODEX) serve to prepare our teams for deployment in the event of a disaster in realistic exercises.

Our standards and principles

Our emergency relief work is based on internationally recognized standards and principles such as the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), the SPHERE guidelines, the humanitarian principles, the Code of Conduct of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the twelve principles of humanitarian assistance of the German Federal Foreign Office. These include, for example

  • The humanitarian imperative: receiving and providing humanitarian aid is a right. Humanitarian aid must be provided wherever it is needed.
  • Impartiality and independence: Humanitarian aid is intended to alleviate people's suffering and is based solely on need - regardless of their origin, religion, nationality or political convictions.
  • Neutrality: No sides are taken. Neutrality protects aid workers in conflict areas and often enables access to the people affected in the first place.
  • Human dignity and ethical standards: The dignity of people in need is at the center of all actions. Humanitarian organizations are committed to providing aid in accordance with the highest ethical standards, including the prohibition of exploitation, abuse and discrimination.
  • Participation and accountability: The aid is needs-based and involves local resources and capacities. The actors are also committed to transparency towards the recipients and donors and are accountable for the use of the funds.

By adhering to these quality standards, we ensure that our help is not only effective, but also ethically justifiable. Find out more about transparency and quality.

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Needs-based disaster relief: aid that gets to where it is needed

At Malteser International, experienced experts take care of the coordination of aid in the event of a crisis. They assess the needs of the people in the affected regions, manage the emergency services on the ground and take care of the procurement and logistics of urgently needed relief supplies. Our aid is provided either via our country offices, via partner organizations in the countries of operation or via teams of experts deployed.

In doing so, we always focus on the needs of the affected population, which we identify from the outset. Based on this needs analysis, we work with the people to develop concepts that can go beyond the acute emergency situation to include, for example, improving water and sanitation supplies, rebuilding houses and public buildings and restoring livelihoods and livelihoods.

Our emergency relief activities

The area in which we provide emergency relief depends on the needs on the ground and close coordination with other emergency relief actors. The provision of health services and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) is a long-standing and important focus of our work. In the event of a disaster, this includes initial medical aid, the provision of basic health services, access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities and the distribution of hygiene products. We also provide support in the areas of food and shelter in order to improve the immediate living conditions of those affected.

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Learn more about Malteser International's Emergency Medical Team:

Emergency Medical Team

Find out everything you need to know about Malteser International's WHO-classified Emergency Medical Team (EMT) here.

Read more

Pool of Experts

Malteser International is looking for committed and motivated individuals capable of providing technical and operational assistance during emergencies.

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What happens after emergency relief? Long-term support in times of crisis

After the acute phase of emergency relief, Malteser International begins the strategic transition phase to development cooperation. This means that the regional teams take over the work and coordinate the further process. In order to continuously improve our operational strategies, we carry out a thorough analysis of the completed measures after the emergency aid phase and reflect on the lessons learned. In addition, we take care of the resupply of emergency material in order to be optimally equipped for future challenges.

In protracted crises, we also strive not only to provide immediate emergency aid, but also to implement long-term support measures. Our aim is to promote the reconstruction of the affected communities from the outset and to develop sustainable solutions that minimize the risk of future disasters. In doing so, we listen to the needs of the people on the ground to ensure effective transitional aid and sustainable support.

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