GLENDALE—Artsakh has the highest per capita land mine, and unexploded ordnance civilian casualty rate in the world. A quarter of these victims are children. Beyond the physical danger, land mines and cluster bombs cripple the economy by denying farmers the use of their land.
Landmine Free Artsakh (LFA) is comprised of a group of concerned Armenians who have made it their mission to raise awareness and funds to help clear every village in Artsakh of this ever-present danger. The villages are in the Lachin, Hadrut and Martuni regions, where international government grants or funds may not be used. Only private funding may clear these areas. LFA is raising funds for The HALO Trust, the world’s oldest and largest humanitarian landmine clearance organization and the only mine clearance operator in Artsakh. Mine clearance not only saves lives but also helps the economy by making farmlands safe. The HALO Trust creates jobs by hiring and training locals to do the de-mining and provides mine risk education in schools.
Since 2012, LFA has organized awareness campaigns and fundraising events in the Armenian Community. Among them, an art exhibition and auction in Glendale, presentations at Glendale Public Library, Glendale Community College, UCLA, Ferrahian High School in Encino, ARPA Institute in Sherman Oaks, Keyan Armenian Community School in Fresno, St. John’s Armenian Church in San Francisco, St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale, Zorayan Museum in Burbank, Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles, Homenetmen South Bay “Arakatz” Chapter in Lomita, St. Mary Apostolic Church in Washington DC, St. David Church in Boca Raton, Florida, and Eskijian Museum in Mission Hills. LFA has had television interviews on Horizon TV-Right to Speak program, Shant TV, Barev TV with Nune Avedisyan and AABC TV with Vrej Aghajanian.
Landmine Free Artsakh, with the generous support of the Armenian Community, has raised $61,000 and with the work of The HALO Trust has cleared three villages and directly benefited over 300 families. Now, over 3,500 villagers are able to cultivate their farmlands and herd their livestock without the fear of losing life or limb due to unexploded ordnances. Parents no longer fear for the lives of their children stumbling upon cluster bombs as they play or help their families. These villages, once again, are being inhabited by returning families, new settlers, and Syrian Armenians in search of a new home.
We are thrilled to share some exciting news with you and our community. The goal of having a landmine free Artsakh is now within reach. The HALO Trust has a pledge of $4 million, in matching funds, from an anonymous US-based foundation. This will provide half of the $8 million required to clear all of the remaining minefields outside of the traditional Soviet-era boundary by 2020, if we raise the matching funds. We hope every Armenian will join in donating matching funds so that we may all see a landmine free Artsakh!
Please accept our heartfelt gratitude for your continued caring and generosity! Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!