Unexploded ordnances left behind from the Artsakh War continue to threaten locals while unemployment and poverty run high in the Republic of Artsakh.

ONEArmenia has partnered with The HALO Trust for a three-year long program that will clear all known landmines in Artsakh by 2020.

Their first fundraising campaign, Jobs Not Mines, will fund the clearance of a minefield located meters away from the 18th century Kavakavank Monastery in Artsakh’s southeast Hadrut region. The HALO Trust has already cleared all other minefields surrounding the monastery, leaving the “G-15A, Mendeleneta 2B” minefield located on the northern slope of the Mengelenata Hill left.

Jobs Not Mines will train and employ two teams of 8 local deminers over the next two years, providing them with a steady, higher-than-average income, benefits, and health insurance as they work to make the Kavakavank Monastery mine-free.

“Our mission is to create jobs so that locals have the resources they need to sustain and enhance their communities,” said Patrick Sarkissian, founder of ONEArmenia.

A deminer working for The HALO Trust gets paid on average $600 a month—about twice the average salary in Artsakh. Deminers who receive medical training from HALO, or get promoted, get higher wages; a medic deminer can be paid up to $640, and a team leader can get paid up to $890 a month. In Artsakh, where 26% of the population live under the poverty line, The HALO Trust provides meaningful, well-paid jobs to 260 local people.

Local Context
During the Artsakh War of 1988-1994, Armenian and Azeri forces laid landmines and other explosive ordnance in defensive positions across what is today the Republic of Artsakh. Many still remain, and since 1995, there have been 376 civilian casualties resulting from landmines and unexploded ordnance in Artsakh, making Artsakh’s landmine casualty rates one of the highest in the world. One-third of casualties have been children.

Mine Clearance As A Critical First Step for Development
The HALO Trust began working on the Mengelenata Hill in 2007 and has already cleared five minefields there through support from USAID, DFID, The Julia Burke Foundation, and the Dutch government.

“The destruction of the last mine on this mountain will be a symbol for the whole region, as once the mines are cleared they will never grow back, allowing the families of this region, and eventually all of Nagorno-Karabakh, to use this land safely, productively, and without fear,” said HALO Trust Regional Director Ash Boddy.

Jobs Not Mines will train and deploy local demining teams over the next two years, providing them with a steady, higher-than-average income, as they work to clear the last remaining minefield near Kavakavank. With higher salaries, the deminers can afford to buy more goods and services in their own communities, recycling their earnings into the local economy of Artsakh.

Grigor Aghabavyan, who currently leads a team of deminers near the Lachin Corridor in Artsakh, is a great example of this. Grigor began working for The HALO Trust 11 years ago. Since then he’s been promoted, has been able to save money from his monthly income to open his own lavash bakery, creating jobs and providing a needed service to his community.

The future of Artsakh’s development depends on landmine clearance and sustainable employment. Once all landmines are gone, people will be able to put the land to use, improving transportation, communication, and infrastructure in Artsakh.

To learn more about the program, and contribute to Jobs Not Mines, visit: www.onearmenia.org/mine-free-artsakh All donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, by an anonymous donor.

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