Nagorno Karabakh remains one of the most isolated regions in the world, receiving little assistance or outside aid. Last month, the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed and if the outbreak spreads, the results could be devastating.
For twenty years, The HALO Trust has been clearing landmines in Karabakh that threaten people’s lives and livelihoods. Currently, they are one of two international organizations working in the region. As a part of the charity’s greater effort to respond to the emergency need caused by COVID-19, HALO is helping protect people in Karabakh from the pandemic.
In mid-April, they quickly mobilized a COVID-19 response and distributed hygiene supplies to Kichan village. Later that month, they also conducted distributions in Nor Ghazanchi and several villages in the Lachin region whose residents would have little means of obtaining the supplies they need to stay safe from a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
HALO is also assisting with a national health emergency, having donated protective face masks to local hospitals. They have also begun outfitting their vehicles to serve as ambulances that can safely transport COVID-19 patients from remote areas to hospital. With over 30 four-wheel-drive vehicles, HALO is best equipped to safely reach villages tucked in Karabakh’s mountainous terrain.
Robert Syfret, Program Manager for HALO in Nagorno Karabakh, explains why HALO decided to mobilize towards a COVID-19 response. He said: “With little aid or outside help, a COVID-19 outbreak would be devastating for Nagorno Karabakh. We recognize the responsibility that comes with being one of the few international humanitarian organizations working in Karabakh during this global pandemic. We have the manpower, the ambulances and the scale to make a difference and protect families in Nagorno Karabakh from the threat of COVID-19.”
Last month, Rob Syfret, The HALO Trust’s Program Manager in Nagorno Karabakh and Amasia Zargarian, the Grants & Development Manager, of The HALO Trust USA told Asbarez Editor Ara Khachatourian, in an exclusive video interview, about the challenges facing the organization during the COVID-19 global crisis, as well as highlighted the important inroads HALO has made in de-mining Artsakh throughout the years.
The two HALO officials stressed the importance of the U.S. funding for the project and the ramifications on the efforts in the the program is defunded.