On Friday in Copenhagen, Denmark’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen met with the leader of Syria’s Civil Defence, Raed al-Saleh.
Al-Saleh is head of the ’White Helmets’, so called because of their characteristic head gear, which saves wounded civilians from the ruins of Syria’s bombed-out towns and cities. At the meeting, the Minister for Foreign Affairs - announced a new Danish contribution of DKK 20 million towards the corps’ efforts in 2016, and discussed the perspective for finding a solution to the conflict in Syria.
Ahead of the meeting, Anders Samuelsen said:
”I am deeply affected by the desperate situation for the Syrian civilian population, especially in Aleppo. Both the regime and Russia have escalated their airstrikes, prevented access to essential emergency aid and pushed aside negotiations to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria. The work of the White Helmets is thus more important than ever.
I am very much looking forward to their assessment of the situation on the ground in Syria, and wish to give a clear impression of Denmark’s support for their work. We have allocated DKK 20 million for the White Helmets in 2016, which will be spent among other things on training, equipment and development of the White Helmets’ organisation.”
On the agenda for the meeting was also the current situation in Aleppo, which is characterised by brutal fighting and extremely limited access to food and medical assistance in the besieged eastern part of the city. The acute humanitarian need in the city in recent weeks has forced tens of thousands of people to flee.
”We are witnessing terrible, unscrupulous attacks from the regime and its allies, which trample on the laws of war and are contributing to worsening the humanitarian situation for the population. That is why we shall, together with our partners in the EU and UN, continue to place pressure on Syria and Russia.
Throughout the entire conflict, Denmark has contributed more than DKK 1.6 billion to mitigate the humanitarian consequences of the conflict, and I explicitly encourage the EU to increase its humanitarian efforts. It is also crucial that the new US administration maintains its commitment to solving the conflict, and maintains the pressure on President Assad,” says Anders Samuelsen.
Syria’s Civil Defence, ‘The White Helmets’, was started by Syrian volunteers in March 2013. Today the organisation numbers more than 3,000 people divided into 120 rescue teams across all of Syria. The organisation is independent of political affiliations and assists Syrians across the parties involved in the conflict. According to the organisation itself, the White Helmets have saved over 75,000 lives in Syria, and assist in supplying public services such as electricity and rebuilding for upwards of 7 million Syrians. The White Helmets were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year.
Via the new regional stabilisation programme for Iraq and Syria, Denmark is contributing DKK 20 million towards the White Helmets’ work in Syria in 2016. It is expected that DKK 20 million will be allocated annually for the White Helmets’ work in 2017 and 2018.
For more information, please contact: Press advisor Dorte Mikkelsen, tel. +45 50778698.