The White Helmets

40 minutes

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Background on The White Helmets, who have been on the frontlines in Syria since 2013, rescuing survivors during the civil war and after recent earthquakes.


The White Helmets, officially known as Syria Civil Defence, is an organization formed in 2013 and made up of 2,900 Syrian civilians, working in 120 centers across much of the country. The Academy Award-winning documentary centers on coverage of and interviews with White Helmet volunteers. While the documentary was released in 2016, the conflict is ongoing, now nearing its 12th year. Despite a tenuous 2020 ceasefire, the war continues, and The White Helmets remain on the frontlines. Despite the grim realities of war, the documentary focuses on the lives saved, the optimism that justice will prevail and that tomorrow will be better, and on the stories of everyday people working to rescue as many people as they can.

Emily's thoughts

As I followed coverage from the Turkey-Syria earthquake, I felt sad and hopeless as I read that the death toll has surpassed 46,000, and that in parts of Northwest Syria, 9 out of 10 residents are now homeless. I think that’s why I wanted to re-watch the documentary, and to share information about The White Helmets with friends—there’s something powerful about everyday citizens volunteering, training, and banning together to rescue as many fellow community members as they can. The death toll is high, aftershocks continue, and survivors have experienced incredible loss and trauma. The earthquakes have hopefully passed, but the war continues, and as long as it does, The White Helmets will be on the frontlines.  

I keep thinking of a quote from White Helmet volunteer and former tailor Mohammed Farah, who shares, “Whenever I’m on a rescue I try as hard as possible to save every person under the rubble…I consider them all to be my family.” It’s an incredible organization and a wonderful documentary you shouldn’t miss!  

Find The White Helmets on Netflix!