The Syrian civil defense was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law a few days after receiving the Alternative Nobel Prize honoring their humanitarian role in relief work.
Raed Saleh, leader of Idlib civil defense, was awarded the prize by Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault during a ceremony held in the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin on Thursday.
Syria’s civil defense, also known as the White Helmets, is an aid group composed of volunteers who assists civilian victims of the Assad regime and Russian bombardment.
In a speech during the ceremony, Steinmeier said that standing up to injustice requires courage, adding that the White Helmets are helping victims of airstrikes and are seeking to rebuild infrastructure that was damaged in the bombed areas.
For his part, Ayrault condemned the attacks that target civilians and hospitals in Aleppo, adding that systematic war crimes are being committed in the war-torn city.
Ayrault described the humanitarian situation in Aleppo as tragic. Unfortunately, the international community often ignores these crimes, but we don’t have to remain silent after watching these massacres, he added.
Ayrault pointed out that the White Helmets volunteers are still struggling for human dignity, stressing that their work is a reminder that human rights are universal and indivisible.
Syrian activists as well as Syrian and international human rights and relief organizations called for nominating the White Helmets for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. They launched an online campaign to highlight the work of the White Helmets who are operating in the most dangerous places in the world. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Agencies)