The most dangerous place in the world
When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes 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. Known as the White Helmets these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth.
As the conflict in Syria worsens, ordinary people are paying the highest price. More than 50 bombs and mortars a day land on some neighbourhoods in Syria. Many are rusty barrels filled with nails and explosives, rolled out the back of government helicopters -- bakeries and markets are the most commonly hit targets. When this happens The White Helmets rush in to search for life in the rubble - fully aware that more bombs may fall on the same site. These volunteers have saved 22,693 lives - and this number is growing daily.
"To be able to understand accurately the damage and the threat and the devastation of the disaster in Syria, they are having a 7.6 earthquake 50 times a day"
- Dundar Sahin, Director, Akut Institute of Training and Research, Turkey
The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2139 last year which banned barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons. They promised to take further steps if their resolution was violated. More than a year later, thousands more barrel bombs have been dropped, killing over two thousand children. The Council didn’t act.
Earlier this year, they passed another resolution banning the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon. They said if chemical attacks continue, they would take action under the “Chapter VII” of the UN charter - which would allow them to use force to protect civilians.
The have been dozens of chemical attacks since the Security Council spoke. By failing to act, Security Council members are emboldening the killers. Now the White Helmets are calling on them to follow through on their demands and stop the chlorine and stop the bombs.
"When I want to save someone’s life I don’t care if he’s an enemy or a friend. What concerns me is the soul that might die"
- Abed, The White Helmets
Unarmed and neutral
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. This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved - so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline.
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.
Bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and many more, the White Helmets are volunteers from all walks of life. Many have paid the ultimate price for their compassion - 92 have been killed while saving others.
As well as saving lives the White Helmets deliver public services to nearly 7 million people, including reconnecting electrical cables, providing safety information to children and securing buildings. They are the largest civil society organisation operating in areas outside of government control, and their actions provide hope for millions.
Who are the White Helmets?
Get wounded White Helmets back on their feetBakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, students and many more, the White Helmets come from all walks of life. The 2,697 volunteers are united by their motto that ‘to save one life, is to save all of humanity'. Donate and show them that humanity is united behind them.
- Day in hospital $150
- Night in intensive care $300
- Artificial leg $12,500
The women saving Syria from the bombs
Almost all official members of the White Helmets were men until two women’s teams were formed in October last year. These 56 heroic women are trained in medical care and light search and rescue work. They respond to barrel bomb and missile strikes and dig for survivors using tools and their bare hands.
In some cases, they are the only hope for other women or girls who are trapped under rubble. In Syria’s most conservative communities, people have refused to let male volunteers rescue women and girls – but the women have intervened to help those who wouldn’t have been helped otherwise.Now they’ve inspired hundreds of people across the world, from Peru to Pakistan, to donate over $100,000 to buy them the six ambulances they need for their rescue missions.
WHAT IS THE SYRIA CAMPAIGN?
Four years after the peaceful uprising in Syria, politicians and the media have largely forgotten what the UN calls “the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our time”. But we haven't. That’s why we started The Syria Campaign, to build a global movement of solidarity and action working toward a peaceful and dignified future for all Syrians. We aren’t the Syrian Civil Defence, but we think that what they do is amazing and should be supported by people around the world. The Syria Campaign Facebook Twitter White Helmets / Syrian Civil Defence Facebook Twitter Contact us on [email protected] Read more White Helmets rescue stories