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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

Help volunteer responders in Syria: Eleven days to go and a quarter of target reached

Posted on 7th July 2015 at 18:04pm

Read Emily Hough’s interviews with Members of the Syria Civil Defence, take a few minutes to watch the video below. Then consider contributing to a fund to help treat injured volunteers and to support the families of those killed.

Syria Civil Defence volunteers in training - holding a copy of a familiar publication...

Members of Syria Civil Defence are volunteer search and rescue workers in the most dangerous place on earth. When the bombs rain down, they rush in. In a place where public services no longer function, these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need – regardless of their religion or political views.

The biggest threat to civilians in Syria today is from the air – from barrel bombs dropped by the regime's helicopters and planes. More than 50 bombs and mortars a day land on some neighbourhoods in Syria. Many are rusty barrels filled with nails and explosives, rolled out the back of government helicopters – bakeries and markets are the most commonly hit targets.

In May 2015, video footage emerged of aircrew on a Syrian regime helicopter lighting and dropping a barrel bomb, proof that the indiscriminate weapons are being used against civilians in spite of frequent and public denials.

Filmed on a mobile phone mid-flight, an airman was shown lighting a barrel bomb with his cigarette before pushing it out of a military helicopter.

The footage was discovered on a mobile phone found by opposition forces in the wreckage of a crashed Syrian regime helicopter. It was handed to Al Jazeera, which broadcast the footage, and prompted British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to say: “This video footage exposes Assad’s lies on barrel bombs. It shows the casual and indiscriminate way in which Syrian regime forces are dropping these horrific weapons out of helicopters onto civilians below. For months we have seen reports of barrel bombs hitting hospitals and schools, killing thousands.”

The White Helmets have saved countless victims of these attacks but as a consequence their life-saving work is now a target for the regime.

In the last month alone, three centres were bombed in three days. As the chemical attacks from the regime increase, the White Helmets are suffering too. As first responders to the scenes of attacks, hundreds have suffered suffocation and respiratory conditions. Ninety-two have paid the ultimate price for their bravery and hundreds more have been injured saving others.

The Hero Fund, started by the Syria Campaign, aims to raise US$100,000. There are 11 days left and the fund has reached just over a quarter of its target. Click here to donate.

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