The laureate of the Council of Europe’s 2020 Raoul Wallenberg Prize was announced this morning. Dr Amani Ballour, paediatrician and today a refugee in Turkey, ran an underground children’s hospital of Eastern Ghouta, Syria, between 2012 and 2018. Dr. Ballour has been awarded the prize “for her personal courage, bravery and commitment in saving hundreds of lives during the Syrian war”.
Just having concluded her education at the university, Dr Ballour started as a volunteer, helping wounded. Later, in the midst of war and in dreadful conditions, she found herself running a team of 100 staff members at the hospital that goes by the name the “Cave”, in her hometown close to Damaskus.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić, says:
“Human rights and personal dignity are not a peacetime luxury. Dr. Amani Ballour is a shining example of the empathy, virtue and honour that can flourish even in the worst circumstances: in the midst of war and suffering.”
The subterranean hospital the ‘Cave’ became a beacon of hope and safety. Putting their own lives at risk, Dr Ballour and her team worked tirelessly day after day, to rescue their most fragile citizens; in particular children suffering the effects of chemical weapons.
The story of Dr Ballour has come to life through the film “The Cave”, that has just been nominated for the Oscars in the category of best documentary.