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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

First White Helmets family resettled in the UK 

Over 400 people linked to the group were rescued from southern Syria in July.

The organisation has come under increasing pressure as Assad's regime retakes more territory. Reuters
The organisation has come under increasing pressure as Assad's regime retakes more territory. Reuters

Britain will resettle up to 100 people linked to Syrian volunteer group the White Helmets, the government announced on Monday

A rescue mission led by the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany in July, and carried out by the Israel Defence Forces, evacuated 98 White Helmets and their families, a total of 422 people, to Jordan via the Golan Heights in July. Now the British government has announced its willingness to resettle some of the families in the UK under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

The White Helmets, named for the distinctive white hard hats they wear, operate in rebel-held areas of Syria, acting as an emergency response service.

According to The Telegraph, the first family has already moved to the UK and the rest are due to move by the end of the month. This includes 29 White Helmets members and around 70 of their family members.

“The actions of the White Helmets demonstrate true modern day heroism. They are rightly respected for their courageous, life-saving work and have previously been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize,” foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement.

“We welcome the first White Helmets to be resettled in the UK.”

Unfortunately, not all members of the civil defence group escaped from Syria, and they now face an uncertain future.

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President Bashar Al Assad issued a warning to the remaining White Helmets in the wake of the evacuation.

He told Russian media, “The fate of the White Helmets will be the same as that of any terrorist. They have two paths: either lay down their arms and take advantage of amnesty, or be liquidated, like other terrorists”.

The UK has resettled more than 12,800 of the 20,000 Syrian refugees it has committed to taking in by 2020.