A volunteer group in Syria that has rescued thousands of people from bombed buildings are among the winners of this year's Right Livelihood Award, sometimes known as the "Alternative Nobel". The Syria Civil Defence group – better known as the White Helmets – share the award with Russian refugees' rights campaigner Svetlana Gannushkina, Turkish independent newspaper Cumhuriyet and Egyptian women's rights activist Mozn Hassan.

Syria Civil Defence White Helmets
Members of the Syria Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo on 2 June 2014 Sultan Kitaz/Reuters

Created in 1980, the annual award honours efforts that prize founder, Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, felt were being ignored by the Nobel Prizes. The White Helmets, a group of volunteer first responders, were cited for "for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war."

"They come in after the bombs have fallen and free people from the ruins, from the rubble of the houses that have been bombed," said Ole von Uexkull, the founder's nephew and executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation. "Many in Syria believe that hopefully, when there's a peace accord, the White Helmets will be the ones who help to rebuild the country from the ruins."

In this gallery, IBTimes UK pays tribute to the brave members of the White Helmets.

Hassan and her feminist organisation were honoured "for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination." The citation said the group has documented human rights violations and coordinated the response to sexual assaults on women participating in public protests during and after the uprising of 2011.

Gannushkina, a 74-year-old refugee rights advocate, was cited for her work to promote "human rights and justice for refugees and forced migrants, and tolerance among different ethnic groups."

Cumhuriyet was praised for "fearless investigative journalism" in the face of "oppression, censorship, imprisonment and death threats." The paper's former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, and its Ankara representative, Erdem Gul, were sentenced to five years in prison in May for their reports on alleged Turkish arms- smuggling to Syrian rebels. The two are appealing against the verdict which increased concerns over media freedoms in Turkey.

The four laureates will share a cash award of three million Swedish krona (about £268,475).