The HALO Trust (HALO) is a UK-based NGO, leading the effort to protect lives and restore livelihoods threatened by landmines and all the deadly debris of war. Currently working in nineteen countries and territories around the world, our landmine clearance is conducted to the highest standards and we are respected as a leader in the mine action sector.
Since 2000 HALO has been the only agency clearing the minefields and cluster munition strikes in Nagorno Karabakh resulting from the Karabakh war and we are one of the largest civilian employers in the country, with 140 Karabakhi Armenian staff. We recruit and train local men and women to clear the minefields that affect their communities.
Mine clearance in Karabakh has not only greatly decreased the casualty rate but it has also allowed roads, schools and housing to be built, water pipes to be laid, fields to be cultivated, livestock to be safely grazed and people to go about their daily business without fear. The benefits of the clearance are tangible and the cleared land can be safely used in perpetuity.
Since the recent conflict, we have worked with the NK Rescue Service to conduct emergency clearance of unexploded ordnance, while maintaining our mine clearance.
THE FUNDING CHALLENGE
Nagorno Karabakh’s unrecognized status prevents many governments from funding humanitarian activities in the territory and HALO receives no funding from the Armenian Government. Until recently, our only major donor in Karabakh was the US Government, through USAID, but its funding is restricted to land within the Soviet boundary of the autonomous oblast of Nagorno Karabakh.
We have been fortunate to have the support of the Julia Burke Foundation, the SJS Charitable Trust, private US-based foundations, and the Armenian diaspora through Landmine Free Artsakh, but otherwise we have had limited private funds to clear minefields lying outside the Soviet boundary. Yet it is here that the majority of the remaining minefields are located so we are enormously grateful to an incredibly generous donor who has pledged to match fund the achievement of a mine free Nagorno Karabakh.
MINE FREE KARABAKH: WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
$4m is required to meet the match challenge to make Karabakh Mine Free by 2020.
We have the skills and capacity to do this. Now we need to raise the match funding.
As the vast majority of people living with landmines are dependent upon the land, the clearance of all remaining minefields will not only stop accidents but it will allow families to return to their homes, farmers to cultivate their land and livelihoods to be restored. It would be a true landmark for Karabakh if it could put this deadly legacy of the war behind it and safely push on towards economic growth and development.