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The New Arab

British MP Jo Cox honoured by Syria's White Helmets

Londoners gather in Trafalgar Square to remember the late MP [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 June, 2016

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The murdered politician receives the posthumous award that is usually reserved for rescue volunteers killed in Syria's war.

The family of slain British parliamentarian Jo Cox were presented with an honorary award by Syria's White Helmets on Wednesday, at a remembrance service marking her 42nd birthday in London.

Travelling from Syria to be alongside the MP's husband Brendan and guests including Malala Yousafzai, Raed Saleh, the head of Syria's Civil Defence Units, presented the Cox family with an honorary white helmet – an award usually reserved for those killed while helping people injured in Syria's war.

The gesture was in recognition of the late lawmaker's humanitarian work and staunch advocacy of Syrian issues.

Since her election to office in 2015, Cox had committed herself to Syrian issues and had founded and chaired the All Parliamentary 'Friends of Syria' group.

The former Oxfam activist had also campaigned for 3,000 Syrian refugee children to be admitted into the United Kingdom.

At the event in London's Trafalgar Square, Cox's husband delivered a moving tribute to his late wife, just days after his tragic loss.

"As amazing and deeply touching as all of this is, I wish I wasn't here today. Not because I'm ungrateful to the organisers and you all for coming, but because of course I'd rather be with Jo," Brendan Cox said to the crowd in the packed square.

"But I wanted to come and show my gratitude and that of all of our family," he continued.

"Your support and love has helped us all and I wanted our children to see what their mum meant to all of you. I know that they will remember today."

Brendan Cox
Brendan Cox delivers a tribute to his late wife at Trafalgar Square, London [Getty]

Memorial fund

Following Cox's murder on June 16, a memorial fund was set up to raise funds for causes that were close to the late MP. With a target of £1.5 million, the campaign has already raised close to £1.35 million in five days, to which over 41,000 people have contributed.

The charities that will share the proceeds are The Royal Voluntary Service, HOPE Not Hate, and the Syrian Civil Defence Units, also known as the White Helmets.

"The White Helmets were shocked by the death of Jo Cox. We did not just lose a person that stood for one cause, Jo Cox's death was a loss for humanity as a whole. We want to send deep gratitude to all who are donating, we are very humbled by your generosity and care," Saleh said in a statement following Cox's death.

"With every donation you made you ensured that the world hasn't forgotten about the Syrian civilians Jo fought for and that her message carries on."


The White Helmets mostly operate in rebel-held areas, while remaining neutral in their rescue efforts. The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict – pledging commitment to the principles of "humanity, solidarity, impartiality" as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation.

Their work has largely been funded through donations, with their personnel also made up of Syrians from all walks of life, including bakers, tailors, engineers, students and many more.

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