Syria's White Helmets share Sweden's 'alternative Nobel' prize

September 22, 2016 6:07 AM EDT

Members of the Civil Defence rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Sultan Kitaz/File Photo


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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A volunteer group in Syria that has rescued thousands of people from buildings bombed in the civil war were among the winners of the Right Livelihood Award, the prize-giving foundation said on Thursday.

The Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, shared the award with Egyptian feminist and human rights activist Mozn Hassan, Russia's Svetlana Gannushkina, who campaigns for the rights of migrants and refugees, and independent Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

"They come in after the bombs have fallen and free people from the ruins, from the rubble of the houses that have been bombed," Ole von Uexkull, executive director of Right Livelihood Award Foundation, said of the White Helmets.

"Many in Syria believe that hopefully, when there's a peace accord, the white helmets will be the ones who help to rebuild the country from the ruins."

The award is sometimes known as Sweden's alternative Nobel prize. The four laureates will share a cash award of 3 million Swedish crowns ($352,000).

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Alistair Scrutton/Jeremy Gaunt)



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