British sappers in Karabakh for mine clearance

Lusine Avanesyan
Public Radio of Armenia
Nagorno Karabakh

The Diaspora Armenian donors have created an opportunity for the British “Halo Trust” organization to start clearance of mines in Kashatagh region. For five weeks now a group of sappers has been working near the village of Norashenik, where the first mines were found eight years ago.

People in the village are used to living next to mines. Even children know that touching unknown items is prohibited. What’s both interesting and forbidden for children, is awesome to grown-ups. The father of eleven children was terrified to know that the deadly danger was buried under the walls of his house.

Since 2000 HALO has provided the sole capacity in Nagorno Karabakh for the clearance of mines and cluster munitions and the disposal of unexploded ordnance (UXO). In the liberated territories the activities of the organization are limited to the request of donors. The organization gets financing from the British, Dutch and US Governments, private structures and individuals.

The organization’s entry to Kashatagh region became possible thanks to the Artsakh Office, which presented the necessity of mine clearance in the region to the California Armenians in March of the current year.

“The team that working here is a battle area clearance team consisting of eight people. The work has been financed by individuals from California,” Nagorno Karabakh Programme Manager Nick Smart told Public Radio of Armenia. He said $11 thousand was raised to clear the village of Norashenik of mines.

Nick Smart added that Norashenik is not the only settlement where clearance works are needed. A total of 7 km² needs to be cleared on mines in Nagorno Karabakh, 5 km² is outside the territory of the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region.

The sappers located and destroyed about 30 different mines in the region within 28 days.

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