Though fighting ceased 19 years ago, the people of Nagorno Karabakh continue to suffer, as the 1992-94 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan left behind hundreds of minefields and cluster bomb strikes. In fact, Karabakh has one of the world’s highest per capita mine casualty rates – on a par with Afghanistan and surpassing Cambodia. A quarter of the victims in Karabakh are children.
One local group from Los Angeles, CA is trying to change this sad fact one village at a time. The Landmine Free Artsakh Campaign is made up of concerned citizens who care for human life and have volunteered to raise funds for landmine and UXO removal in Artsakh. Their mission is to generate awareness about the landmine problem and to help fundraise to completely de-mine all villages. These villages are in the Lachin, Hadrut and Maruni regions where no international grants and funds can be secured. Without private funding these minefields might never be cleared.
They are currently raising money to clear a minefield in Karegah Village, Lachin Region, where anti-personnel landmines put the community at risk. Their efforts have raised over $15,000 of the $35,000 required to help make the village of 310 persons safer. Once the full funds are secured clearance will take approximately 17 weeks to complete. The land will then be handed back to the local people to graze cattle, forage for nuts, berries and wild mushrooms, hunt and cut wood – things they need to do in order to provide for their families.
To date, the Landmine Free Artsakh Campaign has organized the following events and programs:
· September 28th, art exhibition fundraiser at Hollywood Production Center in Glendale, CA
· October 1st, presentation at Ferrahian High School, Encino CA for 11th and 12th graders and their teachers
· October 3rd, presentation sponsored by the Glendale Community College Armenian Student Association
· October 8th, presentation at Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School co-sponsored by The California State University, Fresno Armenian Studies Program, The Keyan Armenian Community School, The ARS Sophia Chapter, the Armenian Technology Group, and the Armenian General Benevolent Union
· October 13th, presentation and fundraiser featuring Mark Geragos and Gor Mkhitarian at Zorayan Museum, Burbank, CA
· October 16th, presentation at Alex Pilibos Armenian School, Los Angeles, CA for 9-12th graders and their teachers
· October 20th, presentation at Homentmen South Bay ”Arakatz” Chapter, Lomita, CA
Funds raised by Landmine Free Artsakh Campaign go directly to HALO Trust, the world’s oldest and largest humanitarian landmine clearance organization. HALO employs 170 local Karabakhi staff, supported by only one international manager, as the only mine clearance operator in Artsakh. Since 1994, HALO has cleared 85% of the minefields and over 63% of cluster munition strikes; locating and destroying over 10,671 mines and over 57,151 items of UXO. HALO is a registered charity in the UK and a 501c3 nonprofit organization in the US. 96.2% of your donation goes directly to our field operations.
Landmine Free Artsakh – www.landminefreeartsakh.com