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Syria’s White Helmets win ‘alternative Nobel’ award for outstanding bravery

22nd September 2016 — The volunteers of Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, have won a major humanitarian award which is often referred to as the ‘alternative Nobel prize’. The Right Livelihood Award is offered to people and organisations who offer solutions to the ‘root causes’ of global problems.

The announcement comes as the director of Syria Civil Defence, Raed Al Saleh, attends the UN General Assembly in New York. The White Helmets have also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced on October 7th.

Reacting to the news from New York, Raed Al Saleh said:

“The White Helmets are humbled to be recipients of the alternative Nobel prize, the Right Livelihood Award. This not only represents recognition of the heroism of our 3,000 volunteers and the gratitude of the 62,000 civilians we have saved but is international recognition of volunteer rescue workers the world over, as well as the bravery of ordinary Syrian civilians trying to lead life with dignity.

“We are humbled to accept this incredibly prestigious award and sincerely hope that in the very near future we can put down our rescue tools and start the generational task of rebuilding Syria.”

James Sadri, Director of The Syria Campaign said:

“The White Helmets truly deserve this prestigious award. When the bombs fall, these heroes rush in to save people trapped under the rubble, putting the safety of others before themselves in the most dangerous place on earth.

“Their courage stands in stark contrast to the cowardice of the Assad regime and its Russian partners, who use barrel bombs and fighter jets to kill people from the skies. These attacks on civilians are war crimes. It’s time for the international community to stop these bombs and let the White Helmets get on with their next job: building Syria’s future.”

The Syria Civil Defence are one of four laureates this year, and join Egyptian women’s rights activist Mozn Hassan and the Nazra for Feminist Studies; Russia Svetlana Gannushkina; and Turkish independent newspaper Cumhuriyet.

For more information about the award please visit the Right Livelihood Award site:




The Syria Campaign is an independent advocacy group campaigning for the protection of civilians. Find out more at