The Walnut Creek, California-based Julia Burke Foundation has made a significant commitment to the reconstruction of Nagorno Karabakh with a three-year pledge in support of minefield clearance by The HALO Trust, a British and American charity specializing in removal of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
The commitment includes an immediate grant of $400,000, to be followed by "challenge gran’s" in 2007-08 and 2008-09. These "challenge gran’s" will match on a dollar-for-dollar basis other private funds raised by The HALO Trust, up to $300,000 in each year. The first challenge grant opens November 5th.
Nagorno Karabakh suffers the world’s highest per capita casualty rates from landmines and explosive remnants of war – surpassing even Afghanistan and Cambodia. Although clearance operations to date have resulted in a significant decline in casualties (14 last year, down from the 2004 peak of 43), much work remains both to eliminate casualties and to return mined land to productive use. HALO calculates the cost of the remaining work at $15 million. Depending on the speed of fundraising, the job could be finished within five years.
HALO’s mineclearance operations in Nagorno Karabakh are currently supported by the governmen’s of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Additional support has been provided by private foundations, including the Cafesjian Family Foundation, The Cooperative Bank, Pro Victimis, Newman’s Own Foundation, Actiefonds Mijnen Ruimen, and by donations from individuals in the United States.
"We are very satisfied with the professionalism of the HALO Trust and the quality of their work in Nagorno Karabakh," said Vardan Barseghian, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s Representative to the U.S. "On behalf of my government and the people of Nagorno Karabakh, I thank the Julia Burke Foundation for their generous and very thoughtful gift, which through the HALO Trust’s work will help save lives and also free our beautiful land from landmines. I also call upon our American friends to step up to the challenge grant and join this noble effort to eliminate the deadly danger of landmines in Artsakh."
HALO’s Nagorno Karabakh Program Coordinator Gala Danilova is currently on mission to the U.S. to raise awareness about the state of progress in Nagorno Karabakh and to encourage individuals and groups to participate in the challenge grant.