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At today’s memorial Jo Cox to receive ‘highest honour’ from the White Helmets, a Syrian volunteer rescue group
London, 22th June 2016 — At Jo Cox’s memorial event in London today a Syrian rescue group known as the White Helmets will award British MP Jo Cox its highest honour, in recognition of her work to protect civilians in the war-torn country. They will also be screening this video message during the main speeches [Embargoed until 17:00 BST]:
The group will present a symbolic ‘white helmet’ to her husband Brendan Cox at a rally in Trafalgar Square. The award is normally reserved for volunteers who have lost their lives rescuing civilians in Syria itself and has never been awarded to a non-White Helmet.
The White Helmets are a group of volunteer rescue workers who rescue civilians from attacks in Syria. Unarmed and neutral they have saved over 56,000 lives — 120 have been killed in the line of duty. It is one of three causes chosen by her friends and family to feature on a crowdfunding page which has raised over £1,200,000 since Friday.
Raed al Saleh is the head of the White Helmets, also known as Syria Civil Defence said:
“The White Helmets are a humanitarian organisation dedicated to saving lives. Jo shared our values of common humanity and our commitment to saving lives, no matter if people were Syrian, British or Sudanese. Like 120 of our brave volunteers Jo was killed in the line of duty so we want to award her our highest honour — a White Helmet.”
Jo Cox was an outspoken defender of Syrian civilians in the UK parliament, calling repeatedly on Prime Minister David Cameron to use diplomatic and military pressure to stop the use of barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons by Syrian government forces.
Since its formation in 2013, the White Helmets have grown to around 3,000 volunteers across Syria. Beyond rescue work, they provides basic public services including electricity, fire fighting and building repairs to a population of 7 million civilians across Syria.
The money raised by the British public will go towards a ‘hero fund’, which supports injured members of the White Helmets and the families of 120 members who have been killed so far. Saleh described the surge of donations:
“”We want to send deep gratitude to all who donated, we are very humbled by your generosity and care. With every donation you made you ensured that the world hasn’t forgotten about the Syrian civilians Jo fought for and that her message is carried on. This solidarity and generosity continues to prove that those who attacked Jo’s values have lost.”
The news of her death has been greeted with dismay by many Syrian activists, who are preparing banners and photographs to show their solidarity with the murdered MP. These will be released later by The Syria Campaign.
NOTES TO EDITORS
– An overview of Jo Cox’s Syria policies can be found here: https://diary.thesyriacampaign.org/8-reasons-why-syrians-will-never-forget-jo-cox/
– More information about the White Helmets here: http://syriacivildefense.org/volunteers-save-lives