The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) continues to press U.S. Congressional appropriators to ensure continued U.S. federal funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 foreign aid bill for the HALO Trust’s de-mining activity in the interior of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), with the aim of empowering this non-profit organization to complete its long-term project to clear the Republic’s villages and farmlands of mines and unexploded ordnance by 2020.
“Building upon nearly two decades of ANCA advocacy to clear Artsakh of landmines, we are, today, encouraged by growing grassroots support for the final phases of this life-saving initiative – as reflected in the efforts of thousands of activists from around the country who, on a daily basis, share the remarkable results of HALO Trust’s demining efforts with their Senators and Representatives,” remarked ANCA Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian. “Much has been accomplished – many acres cleared, farms revitalized, and, most importantly, lives saved – but much more remains to be done, which is why we are so actively working with House and Senate appropriators to ensure that the Fiscal Year 2018 foreign aid bills include the necessary provisions to help meet the 2020 deadline to declare Artsakh – finally – landmine free,” she added.
ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian recently met with HALO Trust Program Manager Ash Boddy in Stepanakert to convey the ANCA’s support for the HALO Trust’s goal of a landmine-free Artsakh by 2020.
Since 1997, the ANCA has worked with Republican and Democratic-controlled houses of Congress to secure tens of millions of dollars in direct U.S. foreign aid for Artsakh. This bi-partisan work by the ANCA has met maternal healthcare needs, provided safe drinking water for families, and, according to HALO Trust, has, as of 2017, cleared 88% of known minefields across Artsakh.
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) – then a new member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – worked with the ANCA to lead the first legislative effort to secure direct U.S. aid to Artsakh in 1997, offering an amendment to the Foreign Policy Reform Act. While the Sherman Amendment would fail by a margin of 14 yeas to 23 nays, his initiative eventually led to a successful effort, later that year within the House Appropriations Committee, to approve a Foreign Aid bill (Public Law 105-118) that allocated $12 million in Fiscal Year 1998 aid for Artsakh, with additional funds appropriated and allocated in subsequent years.