Why you should watch Netflix’s The White Helmets

You need to know about the volunteer group who risk their lives every day to help others in Syria.

Meryl D'Souza October 6, 2016

Irrespective of your religious and political beliefs, one thing we can all agree on is the fact that what’s happening in Syria is not right. Every day, Syria’s civil war leaves thousands of Syrians injured or in need of intensive medical attention.

The U.S and Russia may have agreed on a tentative ceasefire, but that hasn’t changed the fact that the Syrian city called Aleppo and its population are on the brink of becoming an annihilated ruin. 

The city and everything living or standing inside of it have been under indiscriminate bombardment since late 2015 by missiles and barrel bombs dropped on neighbourhoods. And now, with supply lines from Turkey cut off, Aleppo doesn't have a channel to receive food or medical supplies.

Which makes the Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer force dedicated to rescuing victims of bombings, that much more vital and gut-wrenching at the same time. We say gut-wrenching because a whole city depends on a roughly 3,000-member group known as the White Helmets – a nickname that stems from their gear – to run into smouldering rubble, the aftermath of airstrikes, and dig out the dead and injured.

That’s why we’re telling you to watch the Netflix Documentary called The White Helmets. The documentary directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and produced by Joanna Natasegara follows 30 White Helmets and their day-to-day lives. Which, as you may have seen in the trailer is quite brutal but here see more:

The scale of the violence has been so persistent and relentless, that it seems as just news for those of us on the outside, but this is your chance to look at it straight from the ground. And maybe, live a part of that horror.

The Netflix feature comes on the heels of a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the White Helmets, an “alternative Nobel” award known as the Right Livelihood Award and endorsements from an assortment of celebrities.

Of course, like most things in politics, the Netflix documentary is not without controversy. Many believe that the knights are led by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the United States’ government. Their accusations seem less wild when you realise that the White Helmets’ official website is operated by an opposition-funded PR company known as the Syria Campaign

But let's not get into politics here. The fact of the matter is that innocent lives are being taken because of this war. There’s not much we can do individually but as a community, we’re getting there. Only last week, the UAE said it would welcome 15,000 refugees over the next five years.

That figure doesn’t sound like much, does it? It’s nothing compared to the million Germany provided asylum to last year, but don’t look at this in terms of pure numbers. As Yara al-Wazir pointed out: “(Germany) has a population of 80 million, thus refugees make up 0.175 per cent of its population. The UAE in comparison has a population of 9.4 million, thus refugees also make up a close 0.16 per cent of its population.”

It seems like everyone is out to play their part. So try and leave behind that political allegiance when you watch Netflix’s short. Word of advice: keep the tissues nearby.