The head of a volunteer rescue group who has witnessed the devastation in Aleppo firsthand says the world needs to listen to the cries for help coming from Syria.
Raed Al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets organization, leads a group of approximately 3,000 volunteers who rescue people living in war-torn Syria that have been devastated by daily bombings and attacks.
Aleppo, a city in northern Syria, has been at the centre of the fighting for much of the Syrian conflict.
“We communicate on a daily basis with the team’s leaders in eastern Aleppo in order to get updates from them about the situation on the ground,” Saleh told Global News through an interpreter.
“We brief them about our meetings and our efforts to try and get them to safe corridors for the people there.”
Netflix released a documentary on the group called “The White Helmets,” which depicts the life saving efforts the volunteers conduct on a daily basis.
“The situation with Aleppo is now terrible,” Saleh said. “The civilians over the past period of the escalation and the siege of Aleppo, they suffered a lot and especially after the bombing of the hospitals in the eastern part of Aleppo.”
Saleh said over the past 10 days people living in eastern Aleppo have run out of bread and White Helmet rescue centres were bombed.
“It’s a very difficult situation for everybody,” said Saleh, adding that more than 141 White Helmet volunteers have been killed during rescues in Syria.
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On Dec. 6, the federal government announced a $4.5 million contribution to Mayday Rescue to support the White Helmets’ efforts which will be disbursed between December 2016 and March 2018.
But Saleh said there is much more to be done.
“The people of Canada like all people of the world, share with us the same rights as human beings,” Saleh said.
“We expect from the people living here to support us by putting pressure on the government and the international community, by marching in protests in the streets and by signing petitions and statements and campaigns to raise awareness to put pressure and stop the killing in Syria.”
On Tuesday, the U.N. human rights office said it had received reports that at least 82 civilians were killed “on the spot” as pro-government forces close in on capturing remaining neighbourhoods in Aleppo.
With files from Adam Frisk