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Syria's White Helmets win 'alternative Nobel Prize' Open in fullscreen

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Syria's White Helmets win 'alternative Nobel Prize'

The White Helmets are reported to have saved around 60,000 people in Syria [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 September, 2016

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The Syrian humanitarian organisation have been lauded by the Sweden based Right Livelihood Award Foundation for 'outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians'.
The Syrian Civil Defence - popularly known as the "White Helmets" - were named as joint-winners on Thursday of the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm, often called "the alternative Nobel prize".

The White Helmets received a sum of $88,000 and shared the award with other civil society groups and individuals.

This included Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina, founder of the Civic Assistance Committee that offers legal aid and education to migrants and refugees, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, which has been at the forefront of Turkey's struggle for a free press.

Also recognised was Egyptian feminist activist Mozn Hassan and the Nazra for Feminist Studies organisation, which promotes gender equality and rights of women.

Saving lives

125 nominations from 50 countries were considered this year for the award.

The White Helmets - the first Syrian organisation to ever win the award - is made up of around 3,000 members dedicated to emergency rescue inside Syria.

Operating in opposition controlled areas of the war-torn country they are often the first rescue services to arrive at the scenes of bomb attacks and work at great personal risk in their efforts to rescue civilians, fight fires caused by bombing, and offer first aid to those in need.

The Right Livelihood Foundation, a Swedish rights group, said that the White Helmets had won the award for displaying "outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians".

The White Helmets are reported to have saved approximately 60,000 people in Syria.



The group's director, Raed al-Saleh, currently in New York attending the UN General Assembly, issued a statement describing the award as "international recognition of volunteer rescue workers the world over, as well as the bravery of ordinary Syrian civilians trying to lead life with dignity".

The White Helmets are reported to have saved approximately 60,000 people in Syria since their foundation in 2013.

Most recently, the group's rescue of four-year-old Omran Daqneesh in Aleppo became the subject of a viral social media campaign when images of the blood and dust-covered child sitting meekly in an ambulance shocked the world.

The humanitarian organisatoin have also been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

A documentary focused on their work was released on Netflix on 16 September.

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