USAID Director Commits to a mine-free Artsakh

U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Administrator Mark Green, responding to written inquiries from Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), noted that more than 125,000 people have benefited from the HALO Trust’s de-mining and mine-education work in Artsakh, committing to “completing demining [Artsakh] as quickly, and as thoroughly, as possible,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

During March 21, 2018 testimony before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Administrator Green fielded a broad range of inquiries and also took a number of written “Questions For The Record” from members of the panel.  Artsakh is called Nagorno-Karabakh in official U.S. publications. The full written exchange on Artsakh demining between Rep. Sherman and Administrator Green went as follows:

Question:  As you know, the House passed an amendment to include de-mining funding to Nagorno Karabakh in the FY 2018 appropriations bill.  What are USAID’s spending plans for FY 2019 and beyond, and will you commit to fully completing de-mining in and around Nagorno Karabakh as quickly as possible?

Answer:  The United States provides demining assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh (N-K) through a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by HALO Trust. As of September 2017, with only 27 known active minefields remaining, HALO Trust has cleared 97.6 percent of the mined areas within the traditional N-K Autonomous Oblast.  Our ultimate goal is to be able to declare traditional N-K mine-clear. More than 125,000 people have benefited from these interventions, which save lives, prevent injuries, generate local jobs, and promote economic rehabilitation.  In October 2017, USAID reprogrammed approximately $2.8 million for N-K demining, which will extend demining activities until September 2019, when USAID assistance for de-mining under the current award and partnership with HALO Trust will be complete.  We remain focused on completing demining as quickly, and as thoroughly, as possible.

“We welcome Administrator Green reaffirming America’s commitment to a mine-free Artsakh and encourage him – consistent with the wishes of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee – to expand our U.S. aid program in Artsakh to support the life-transforming work of the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre,” said ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian, who recently visited areas of Artsakh cleared by the HALO Trust and the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre, located in Stepanakert.  “America’s truly investing in peace when our assistance saves lives and serves the region’s most vulnerable populations.”

The ANCA spearheaded the launch of the U.S. aid program to Artsakh in the FY1998 foreign aid bill and has, in the years since, consistently supported this assistance as an enduring American investment in peace. Current ANCA aid priorities for Artsakh are de-mining and the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center, which provides care for children, adults, and the elderly with cognitive and physical disabilities.

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