Swiss NGO Helps HALO Trust Clear Munitions in Karabakh

Rocket motor of a LAR-160 Cluster Munition found near Nerkin Horatagh village, Martakert Region.
Rocket motor of a LAR-160 Cluster Munition found near Nerkin Horatagh village, Martakert Region.

Rocket motor of a LAR-160 Cluster Munition found near Nerkin Horatagh village, Martakert Region.

NAGORNO-KARABAKH—The HALO Trust is delighted to announce the receipt of €80,000 ($88,000) from the politically independent Swiss foundation, World Without Mines. The grant will be used to complete urgent clearance of cluster munitions, which were used during the recent outbreak of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in April this year. The grant will also be used to fund emergency explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) close to the Karabakh-Azerbaijani border.

Fighting broke out over a four‐day period in April and was the worst since 1994. Heavy weapons were used in fighting, which occurred along the entire line of contact between the two sides. Cluster munitions were used against two adjacent villages in the north east of Nagorno-Karabakh, close to Martakert town, leaving unexploded bomblets in the villages and on valuable agricultural land.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is a major donor to HALO operations, permitted its funds to be used to conduct immediate surface clearance of the cluster munition strike. However, sub-surface clearance is now required before communities can access the land in safety and with confidence.

The generous and much-needed grant from World Without Mines will enable an eight‐person battle area clearance team to conduct the sub-surface clearance in the hazardous areas. In addition, a five‐person EOD and community liaison team will work with farmers, who use land close to the line of contact contaminated with new unexploded ordnance.

HALO Trust’s Program Manager, Ash Boddy commented “Thanks to World Without Mines, HALO is now able to clear and release 86 hectares of contaminated farmland and domestic property in the villages or Nerkin Horatagh and Mokhratagh. By providing an emergency EOD call out service for civilians using land close to the line of contact, we will also be able to deliver mine risk education and reduce the risk of accidents.”

Claudine Bolay-Zgraggen, President of World Without Mines added “We are working for a world where people can live without fear of the remnants of war, one where farmers can till the soil again and where children can play safely again. This vital humanitarian project will benefit over 1,000 people by making land safe for farming and transit.”

HALO is the only organization to clear landmines in Nagorno-Karabakh since 2000. To date it has cleared 431 minefields in Karabakh which comprise 86% of the known problem. HALO will launch a major fundraising campaign in late 2016, with the goal of clearing all remaining minefields in the territory by 2020. All funds raised will be matched by an anonymous private donor.

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