The ‘Safe Steps For The People of Karabakh’ campaign Co-Chairs Nina and Raffi Festekjian hosted a benefit dinner on Saturday, June 10th, which raised $220,000 for landmine clearance in Nagorno Karabakh.
The benefit dinner was by invitation only and over 100 guests attended and were addressed by Robert Avetisyan, Permanent Representative of NKR to the United States, the CEO of The HALO Trust, Major General James Cowan CBE DSO, as well as renowned photojournalist Scout Tufankjian.
Scout Tufankjian's latest photography from Karabakh was on exhibit for the first time at the event and five exclusive prints were auctioned to raise funds. Scout’s photography will travel to New York and Los Angeles for exclusive showings and events as part of a North American tour. Also auctioned were a case and a magnum of Zorah Yeraz wine, kindly donated by the Zorah Winery in Armenia.
Raffi Festekjian said: “Thanks to our incredible community, and the anonymous family foundation that is matching every gift to clear Karabakh, $220,000 was raised to clear four dangerous minefields in the Lachin corridor in Maratuk, Kornidzor, Deykhan and Zuar and progress made on a fifth in Suarasy. The brave Armenian men and women of HALO will clear over 18 acres of land for the benefit of the community at large who will no longer have to fear while their children play and their animals graze. Ultimately, the removal of these deadly landmines not only restores lives but also ensures the livelihood of the entire region which is economically critical.”
As co-chairs of Safe Steps campaign, Nina and Raffi Festekjian met His Royal Highness Prince Harry on April 4th, 2017 at an event hosted by The HALO Trust at Kensington Palace in London, where he gave a stirring speech that called on the international community to achieve the global goal of a Landmine Free 2025.
Clearing Nagorno Karabakh of minefields is a key milestone toward that goal as it is one of the deadliest places for landmine accidents in the world. As campaign Co-Chairs, Mr and Mrs Festekjian will continue to raise awareness and support, in the United States and in the worldwide Armenian Diaspora to achieve a landmine-free Karabakh by 2020.