By Claire Cameron, Australian Red Cross
In a moving ceremony yesterday, the entire General Assembly of more than 1000 delegates rose to their feet to pay tribute to Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) when he accepted the Red Cross Red Crescent Peace Prize on behalf of the National Society.
He dedicated the award to the 31 volunteers who had lost their lives bringing relief and support to civilians and people injured in the conflict. The Netherlands Red Cross’s Princess Margriet delivered a heartfelt tribute via video, praising the tireless and honourable work of the SARC volunteers.
Dr. Attar quoted a volunteer whose words embody the National Society’s humanitarian spirit. “My college closed its doors, I lost my house, and I lost my job," said the volunteer. "I do still have my soul, and I want to give it to SARC and to the international Movement in which I believe.”
Since the beginning of the conflict, SARC has delivered vital help across Syria. More than 3,000 SARC volunteers work every day in dramatic conditions, putting their lives at risk and facing daily challenges to carry out relief operations. Volunteers are crucial in providing life-saving first aid services and play an important role in distributing food, medicines, clothes and other essential items to the affected people, as well as in providing psychosocial support to ease peoples’ daily difficulties.
Conferred in extraordinary circumstances, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Prize for Peace and Humanity is a Movement award to recognize efforts to build a more peaceful world through humanitarian action and the dissemination of the ideals of the Movement.