White Helmets' female volunteers honoured for bravery

Menal Abazid wearing one of the iconic white helmets Credit: ITV News

A brave accountant who now puts her life on the line as a volunteer paramedic with the White Helmets has described the "hell" she witnessed in Syria.

Manal Ibraheim Abazeed, 46, today accepted a bravery award on behalf of the 100 women volunteers currently working in the Syrian south-western city of Daraa.

Speaking to ITV News in London, she said the "situation now is like a hell - there is no life at all" in her war-torn country.

She went on to recall a time she was treating victims of a bomb attack when she heard the screams of her niece.

Manal, who works unarmed to help anyone in need - regardless of their religion or politics, said: "It's really hard to see a child who is only one year [old] injured in this war.

"The worst thing in this war is that we have children who are losing their limbs, who are losing their sight. It's really hard to see them and you cannot explain to them why this is happening - why this war happened.

"They are exposed to death every day, on a daily basis. Nobody could help. It's the least that we can do for the people."

Manal joined the group in April 2015 and specialises in public education awareness of safety in case of attacks, education on explosive weapons, trauma counselling and childbirth.

Today's award, from children’s charity Theirworld, was given ahead of International Women’s Day.

Sarah Brown, President of Theirworld and wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said: "Whilst most times people think of the men of the white helmets rushing in to save lives, today we wanted to honour the women, who have worked tirelessly and courageously."

Around 150 White Helmets, officially known as Syria Civil Defence, have been killed saving lives.

Manal (in the high-vis) carries a stretcher after a bomb blast Credit: ITV News

In addition to her work with the White Helmets, Manal is also head of the Free Union of Women and works with young people.

She added: "I am happy and so proud [of the work we do], and it gives me a motivation to move on to help the people, more strength to help the people."

As well as saving lives the White Helmets deliver public services to nearly 7 million people, including reconnecting electrical cables, providing safety information to children and securing buildings.

Menal will return to Syria on Friday to continue her work with the White Helmets.