In the deadliest conflict of our era an unlikely group of heroes has emerged. Former tailors, bakers, teachers and other ordinary Syrians have banded together to save lives from the rubble of bombardment and the violence of war in Syria. Forming the Syria Civil Defence, their distinctive uniform of a white helmet now symbolises hope for millions.
When the bombs rain down, the White Helmets rush in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need, regardless of their religion or politics. These volunteer rescue workers have saved more than 100,000 lives.
The White Helmets motto is taken from the Quran: 'to save a life is to save all of humanity'. In a conflict where too many have chosen violence, the White Helmets wake up everyday to save the lives others are trying so hard to take.
Their bravery has inspired people across the planet -- from the children in Syria who play at being rescue workers, to the students in Norway who awarded them their town’s peace prize, and to their nomination now for the Nobel Peace Prize.
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We go to save as many people as we can. If one person was alive that's enough for us to take the risk.
- Khaled Farah, White Helmet
Bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and more, the White Helmets are volunteers from all walks of life.
I help injured civilians every day, knowing that this will give my daughter and my country a better future.
- Fatima, White Helmet
In late 2012 the Syrian Government began dropping bombs on homes from planes miles above the civilians sleeping in their beds. These strikes were the first explosions of an aerial war on civilians that would lead to tens of thousands of deaths, millions displaced and an unrelenting sense of terror in the heart of every Syrian.
Attacks from the sky would demolish entire city blocks, leaving civilians trapped under slabs of concrete, trapped under the weight of their former homes. When this happened the bravest would rush in to rescue everyone they could. Across Syria these volunteers formed into teams -- their mission: to save lives. Four years later they have saved more than 100,000 lives.
The White Helmets arrive to the scene fully aware that warplanes and helicopters often circle back to drop bombs on rescue operations. Two hundred and fifty-two volunteers have been killed in the line of duty, the majority from these 'double-tap' strikes.
The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict - pledging commitment to the principles of “Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality” as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation. The White Helmets mostly deal with the aftermath of government air attacks. Yet they have risked sniper fire to rescue bodies of government soldiers to give them a proper burial.
As well as saving lives, the White Helmets deliver public services, including reconnecting electrical cables, providing safety information to children and securing bombed buildings. They are the largest civil society organisation operating in areas outside of government control, and their actions provide hope for millions.
When I want to save someone’s life I don’t care if he was an enemy or a friend, what concerns me is to save the soul that might die.
- Abed, White Helmet
The Syria Campaign is a human rights group supporting Syria's heroes in their struggle for a free and democratic Syria.
We aren't the Syria Civil Defence, but we think that what they do is amazing and should be supported by people around the world.
White Helmets / Syria Civil Defence
For media enquiries for the White Helmets, email: firstname.lastname@example.org For media enquiries to The Syria Campaign, email: email@example.com All other questions and requests should go to: firstname.lastname@example.org
300,000 of us campaigned to get the Nobel Peace Prize for the heroic rescue workers of the White Helmets. They didn’t win it this year, but we can step in and support their life-saving work. Chip in what you can!