Syria Current Affairs

Syrian aid group White Helmets wins Right Livelihood Award

Syrian aid group White Helmets has won the prestigious Right Livelihood Award which is also known as ‘alternative Nobel’ prize.

The White Helmets also known as the Syria Civil Defence is a Syrian civil organisation of emergency responders in rebel-held areas.

It has been honoured for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war.

The White Helmets will share the prize with Russian activist Svetlana Gannushkina, Egypt’s feminist leader Mozn Hassan and leading independent Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

About The Right Livelihood Award

  • It is an international award that honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.
  • The prize was established in 1980 by German-Swedish philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull. It is presented annually in early December.
  • An international jury decides the awards in such fields as environmental protection, human rights, sustainable development, health, education, and peace.
  • The award carries prize money of 3.0-million-kronor ($350,000) which is shared among the winners.

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Syrian Army recaptures historic city of Palmyra from IS

Syrian Army and popular defence forces have regained control of the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

The liberation of the historic city of Palmyra from the ISIS terror group was undertaken by joint efforts of Syrian Army with support of national aviation and Russian Aerospace Forces.

The ancient city of Palmyra is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site and home to some of the world’s most magnificent ancient ruins.

Background

  • ISIS had taken complete control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in May 2015. After the seizure of entire ancient city, they had destroyed many ancient ruins.
  • The city is situated in a strategically important area on the road between Syria’s capital Damascus and the oil rich eastern city of Deir al-Zour.
  • Oil and gas produced from the fields located in Deir al-Zour, Syrian government used to generate electricity for areas under its control in the west of the country.
  • Earlier in March 2015, ISIS had demolished several ancient sites that pre-date Islam in Iraq, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites Hatra and Nimrud.

Some facts

Ancient city of Palmyra dates back to the first and second Century when it was under Roman rule. Palmyra was once a Silk Road hub and one of the cultural centres of the ancient world. The city occupies mythological status in Syria and is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity, including the Temple of Bel, built in 1st century.

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Major General Jai Shanker Menon appointed as UNDOF head

Major General Jai Shanker Menon of India has been appointed as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

He was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and succeeds Lt Gen Purna Chandra Thapa of Nepal.

In his new role, Maj Gen Menon brings his extensive command experience and knowledge of peacekeeping affairs at the international and national levels.

About Major General Jai Shanker Menon

  • Prior to this appointment, Maj. Gen. Menon was serving as Additional Director General (ADG) Equipment Management in the Indian Army.
  • He has held number of command positions in the Indian Army. Earlier from 2012 to 2013, he had served as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of an Infantry Division.
  • He also has served as Commandant of Regimental Training Centre, Brigade Commander and Battalion Commander.
  • At the international level in the United Nations, he had served as a Military Observer in the UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) in 1993 and UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from 2007 to 2009.

About United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)

  • The UNDOF was established in 1974 by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) following the agreed disengagement of Syrian and Israeli forces in the Golan Heights.
  • Since then, UNDOF has remained in the area to maintain the ceasefire between Syrian and Israeli forces and to supervise the implementation of the disengagement agreement.

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