Having worked with Tipperary Peace Convention for the past couple of years now, we are delighted to announce that 2016’s award (being presented in Autumn 2017) will go to The White Helmets.
Operating as a volunteer organisation in the rebel parts of Syria and Turkey, the White Helmets (also known as Syria Civil Defence) main activity is performing urban search and rescue operations in response to situations such as bombing, medical evacuation of civilians from danger areas.
They were founded in response to the increased violence during the Syrian Civil War. The organisation is made up of almost 3000 volunteers operating in 111 centres, across eight provinces in Syria. They are the ones how run in whilst everyone else runs out. Sadly, 159 volunteers have been killed during rescue missions since the organisation began in 2012.
The White Helmets official mission is “to save the greatest number of lives in the shortest possible time and to minimise further injury to people and damage to property.”
One of the most remarkable and beneficial things that the White Helmets provide are its women volunteers. Although the organisation was at one stage predominantly formed by the male population, in 2014 the organisation undertook an increase in the training of female volunteers. As a result, 140 women were trained in medical care, light search and rescue work.
The impact provided by these women volunteers is remarkable. For some victims, these female volunteers are the only chance that they have of survival. Shockingly, in some of Syria’s most conservative areas, male volunteers were denied access to help women and girls trapped under the rubble. However, due to the rise of female volunteers, more woman and girls are finally being given the chance of survival that they deserve. The organisation has inspired many people, even getting it’s own Netflix documentary in September of 2016.
It is due to these acts of heroic bravery that the White Helmets have been awarded the 2016 Tipperary Peace Award.
The Peace Convention was founded in 1983 by Tim Ryan, Joe Quinn, Maureen Walsh and Noel McInerney with the aim of promoting peace through music and discussion. The convention provides an Open Forum for the discussion of current peace related issues with spokespeople from diverse viewpoints. Every year, a person who has made an outstanding contribution to peacemaking is awarded the Tipperary Peace Prize. It is now world famous and a much coveted prize.
Last year – we were extremely luck to get to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry when the award was given to to him for his continued work to garner peace in Syria. Mr Kerry is an American diplomat who was previously awarded prizes such as Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star medal.