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Muslim Doctor Receives Council of Europe Award

A Syrian doctor who ran an underground hospital for more than six years in Eastern Ghouta has been awarded the Council of Europe’s Raoul Wallenberg Prize for her personal courage, bravery, and commitment to save hundreds of lives during the Syrian war.

She will receive the award, worth €10,000, in a special ceremony planned at the Council of Europe on Friday, 17 January.

The special ceremony will be followed by the screening of the National Geographic documentary “The Cave” nominated for an Oscar 2020 award.

“Human rights and personal dignity are not a peacetime luxury. Dr. Amani Ballour is a shining example of the empathy, virtue, and honor that can flourish even in the worst circumstances: in the midst of war and suffering,” said Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe in a statement published online.

“A young paediatrician just out of university, Dr. Ballour started as a volunteer helping the wounded and ended up, several years later, managing a team of some 100 staff members at the subterranean hospital, the ‘Cave’, in her hometown near the Syrian capital.”

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Dr. Ballour worked in the underground hospital from 2012-2018, saving hundreds of lives.

“The Cave became a beacon of hope and safety for many besieged civilians. There, Dr. Ballour risked her own safety and security to help those in the greatest need. She and others acted day after day to save the lives of so many people, including children suffering the effects of chemical weapons,” the Secretary-General added.

Dr. Amani Ballour
Dr. Amani Ballour

Support Continues

Leaving Syria in 2018 to become a refugee in Turkey, Dr. Ballour continues to help people through her involvement in a fund supporting female leaders and medical workers in conflict zones.

The Raoul Wallenberg Award is bestowed by The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States on “individuals, organizations, and communities whose courage, selflessness and success against great odds personified those of Raoul Wallenberg himself.”

It has been awarded periodically since 1985 when the inaugural award was given to Wallenberg himself.

The award ceremony will take place at the Council of Europe around 17 January – the date of Raoul Wallenberg’s arrest in Budapest in 1945.