Evidence of meeting #101 for Subcommittee on International Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was work.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Nidal Ezeddin  Board Member, The White Helmets
Munier Mustafa  Deputy Chairman of the Board, The White Helmets
Mayson Almisri  Medical Centre Officer, The White Helmets

10:40 a.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank the witnesses for their very compelling remarks.

We have been following your efforts from afar for a while now, and as my colleague mentioned, we are grateful for your courage.

I know you collect and track information on the ground. I have no doubt that some of it will play a key role in the way forward, for instance, to ensure justice is done where war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed.

What resources do you need to keep tracking these crimes?

Thank you. Shukran.

10:40 a.m.

Deputy Chairman of the Board, The White Helmets

Munier Mustafa

Of course, the first need here for the White Helmets to continue their work is for the support to continue. Without this support, we cannot give our work to the people. We cannot go on with our firefighting missions and civil defence.

We help people in the communities to relocate, and we also help them to come back to their homes, resettle in their places. This is our first request from you, ladies and gentlemen. We need your support so we can go on with our work for many years.

There are difficulties, of course. We are suffering from many difficulties, such as in the transferring of money. It is very difficult for the money that is offered to us from the Canadian government to reach us inside the Syrian territories, maybe because of the sanctions.

The sanctions are not against the White Helmets. They are imposed general sanctions. We work within the Syrian territories, so we've been included with these sanctions. Therefore, it's extremely difficult for this money to come to White Helmets personnel, members, and volunteers. The money is coming anyway, but it's extremely hard for it to reach us.

I'll give you a simple example. From three months ago until now, we have never taken any of the awards, the simple amount of money we offer the volunteers to help them sustain their living. For the past three months, volunteers have been deprived of this simple award that we pay them. This money is used for food, buying necessities like gas, and for other humanitarian necessities. We haven't received any money for three months so far, because of the difficulty of transferring the money. This is a general perspective. I'm giving you a general picture now.

I would love to help, but mainly the difficulties are logistic, because of the sanctions.

The other thing I need to reiterate and stress is to continue the support so that we can go on with our work.

10:40 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Michael Levitt

Yes, Mr. Ezeddin, go ahead.

10:40 a.m.

Board Member, The White Helmets

Nidal Ezeddin

Also, I want to say something honestly. The immense help that comes from the friends of the Syrian people is helping us to stand on strong ground.

We cannot go on with helping and rescuing people. We need to draw a very bright picture about peace. We need to stop this destruction in Syria. We are all part of this. The people's support, the political support, is important.

We look for our old life. We want life to come back. I am a dentist. Munier, my friend, is a firefighter. “Sarah”, or Mayson, is a journalist. We miss our work; we miss our lives. Help us to stand again. Please help us.

Thank you.

10:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Michael Levitt

Thank you very much to the three of you. This has been riveting and gut-wrenching all at once. Again, I know I speak for all members of this subcommittee. We heard from you almost a year and a half ago, and we keep hoping that things are going to get better, but we're very clearly understanding that things are not getting better. Your being here in person, telling your story to Canadians across this country and on Parliament Hill, makes a difference.

We will amplify your voice and we will make sure your message is heard, both within our own caucus and by Canadians in our community, because as my colleague said, this is the very worst situation facing the world right now, and it is important that you document these crimes and continue to do that work so that one day justice will be served on those perpetrating these atrocities.

With that, I thank you and I call the meeting to a close. This session is adjourned.