Volunteers from the Syria Civil Defence - better known as the White Helmets - risk their lives on a daily basis by serving as the main rescue group operating in besieged eastern Aleppo. Addressing Parliament’s foreign affairs and development committees on 5 December, their chief liaison officer Abdulrahman Al-Mawwas decried the current situation in Aleppo and called for both a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors to prevent a large-scale humanitarian disaster.
Welcoming the White Helmets representatives to the joint committee meeting on 5 December, UK ECR member Charles Tannock noted the “horrendous situation” the group is working in and how almost 150 volunteers have been killed in the Aleppo region alone. The meeting got underway just as Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution demanding a seven-day truce in Aleppo.
Speaking in an interview at the Parliament in Brussels, Abdulrahman Al-Mawwas, chief liaison officer of the White Helmets, said: "All conditions are against us unfortunately: the number of airstrikes, a lack of support, aid and equipment, and the fear of being targeted while on duty. Yet our goal has been always to save the biggest number of lives in the shortest time."
Al-Mawwas called the siege on Aleppo a “war crime” and demanded that a humanitarian corridor be implemented immediately. The Assad regime has however rejected any ceasefire for Aleppo that does not include the departure of all rebels from the eastern part of the city.
In a resolution adopted by Parliament on 24 November, MEPs urged all parties to the conflict in Syria to ensure humanitarian aid access throughout the country and to immediately cease bombing and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian facilities.
Learn more about the work of the White Helmets by watching the video above.
13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance
6.1 million people have been internally displaced
4.8 million people have been forced to flee the country
More than 250,000 people have been killed
80% of Syrians are living in poverty
The average life expectancy has dropped by 20 years since the start of the conflict