Director of Syria’s Civil Defense Corps Raed Saleh has been named one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people for 2017.
“We are proud to be among the most influential people in the world thanks to the collective work of more than 3,300 volunteers who work in the most difficult and dangerous conditions and sacrifice their lives to save people from all backgrounds,” Saleh said. He added that the civil defense volunteers risk their lives to save people from under the rubble of buildings bombed by the Assad regime and its allies.
“Winning this nomination will hopefully help us convey the voice of the Syrian people and their suffering to the world,” Saleh added. He called on world leaders to work collectively and press towards ending the war and the suffering of the Syrian people.
A film documenting the struggle of Syria’s civil defense group, also known as the White Helmets, won the Oscar for best short documentary in February. The White Helmets are a group of rescuers who risk their lives to help save victims of bombardment by the Assad regime and its allies on the rebel-held areas.
The White Helmets has saved the lives of more than 80,000 civilians since the search and rescue group was established in 2013, Saleh noted.
The White Helmets, which was co-founded by Saleh in 2013, is working to rescue civilians in rebel-held areas in eight Syrian provinces. Since then, the group says it has attracted more than 3,000 volunteers.
The group is named for the distinctive white helmets worn by its volunteers and has gained international fame for its daring rescues, often filmed and circulated on social media.
The White Helmets were nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize and garnered international support for their candidacy. The group’s volunteers are usually hailed as “real life heroes.”
Time magazine’s annual list seeks to name the most influential people in the categories of pioneers, artists, leaders, titans, and icons. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)