Syria Civil Defence, aka the White Helmets, were recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their work, reportedly saving over 70,000 civilian lives in the war-torn nation.
But a recent video from the group has resulted in considerable backlash, with the Syria Civil Defence now calling it an ‘error in judgement’.
The footage is a take on the Mannequin Challenge and shows two rescue volunteers helping a ‘survivor’ covered in rubble.
Since 2013, the White Helmets have searched for survivors in the aftermath of the deadly air strikes raining in Syria, saving thousands of lives.
But their latest footage has been met with controversy, with some calling the video ‘insensitive’ and ‘bizarre’.
In a statement to the BBC, the White Helmets acknowledged the involvement of two of their volunteers but said the video had not been sanctioned by the group’s leadership team. Instead, it was filmed by opposition group Revolutionary Forces of Syria (RFS) to draw attention to the country’s crisis.
The statement read:
The video and the related posts were recorded by RFS media with Syria Civil Defence (White Helmets) volunteers, who hoped to create a connection between the horror of Syria and the outside world, using the viral Mannequin Challenge.
This was an error of judgement, and we apologise on behalf of the volunteers involved.
Our volunteers are committed to saving lives by responding to, and reporting, war crimes in Syria.
In October alone, 1,343 civilians were killed in airstrikes on Syria – and that’s not counting the undocumented deaths. The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights estimates another 120,500 undocumented deaths have occurred since 2011.
So while some may view the footage as offensive or bizarre, those in Syria are attempting to keep the Western world engaged in the country’s deadly ongoings by applying recent, relevant viral trends.
If a country has to go to such lengths to draw attention to such a devastating crisis, maybe we should turn to ourselves and ask why we are not paying enough attention than point the finger and blame.