It is now five weeks since the worst fighting in decades broke out across Nagorno Karabakh and the situation on the ground is desperate. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, forced to abandon their belongings and livelihoods. For the 30-40,000 who are estimated to have remained in Karabakh, life is a daily struggle to survive in cramped bomb shelters, where both shelling and COVID-19 pose a terrible risk. Rockets and cluster munitions have been found in civilian areas and the usually clean and peaceful streets are pitted with bomb craters, burnt out cars and shelled buildings.
Clearing Dangerous Explosives
Since the outbreak of the conflict, HALO has been working to keep the people of Karabakh safe. We are currently on the ground supporting the local rescue service as emergency calls come in from members of the public to report explosives scattered in fields and streets. In the last five days alone, our team has used its expertise and equipment to safely destroy over 150 explosive items. They are being supported by our global experts in explosive ordnance, who are using mobile communications to give real-time advice.
Keeping Families Safe
Whenever there is a pause in the shelling, we have been delivering essential supplies to civilian shelters, including hygiene kits to reduce the spread of COVID-19, fuel and blankets. Our risk education teams are distributing vital educational materials by hand throughout Stepanakert, ensuring people know how to stay safe until full scale clearance is possible. We are also providing materials to be streamed across the national news networks.
Alina, Programme Officer, Nagorno Karabakh
We are mapping and marking explosive debris that cannot be cleared immediately and planning for its removal. In coordination with partner organisations, we are assessing the needs of families trapped in this precarious situation and how they can be urgently met.
You can protect lives
Families here have already suffered many years of hardship as a result of the 1988-1994 Nagorno Karabakh War and the lethal legacy of landmines left behind. But they had begun to rebuild their lives. The minefields HALO has cleared over the last 20 years were transformed into fields of crops, children could play out safely and life was being restored. Today, as renewed attempts at a ceasefire continue to fail, the people of Karabakh need your support more than ever.