Renowned Photojournalist Scout Tufankjian; TUMO Students Share Images of Artsakh at Event Held at PicsArt Headquarters
SAN FRANCISCO—The Bay Area Armenian community joined the Armenian National Committee of America San Francisco in supporting the life-saving Artsakh de-mining efforts of The HALO Trust last week, raising over $8000 at an event organized at PicsArt Headquarters in Downtown San Francisco.
ANCA-SF Board member Knar Kahkejian kicked off the evening with powerful remarks about the importance of Artsakh de-mining, followed by internationally renowned author Scout Tufankjian’s presentation of her photos and that of TUMOxAGBU Stepanakert students, capturing life in landmine impacted communities in Artsakh and the humanitarian work of The HALO Trust to clear these deadly mines.
HALO Trust Director of Development Andrew Moore offered an overview of the organization’s efforts and explained that funds raised at the San Francisco event will help clear a ten-acre minefield in Nor Maragha village in the Martakert region, within the vicinity of the main North-South Highway connecting Stepanakert with Martakert, the historical site of Tigranakert, and the iconic mountaintop monastery of Vankasar. Moore thanked PicsArt, ANCA-SF, and everyone who donated to help make Karabakh Mine Free.
ANCA-SF and The HALO Trust’s community fundraising efforts augment the Congressional funding received in support of the initiative, which is restricted to clearance within the Soviet-era boundary. Most recently, on September 9th, the U.S. House adopted an ANCA-backed amendment by Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) which would send $1.5 million in U.S. assistance as part of the fiscal year 2018 foreign aid bill. The HALO Trust relies on private donations to clear minefields threatening families in Lachin, Martakert and Hadrut regions that lie outside this boundary. The ANCA has been leading the call for continued U.S. assistance to Artsakh since 1997. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently noted that the “State Department and USAID support the demining program and are currently reviewing information from HALO Trust requesting additional funds.” He confirmed that over $45 million has been provided to victims of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, a larger official figure than has been previously reported.
Over the last 16 years, HALO Trust has destroyed over 8,733 anti-personnel mines, 2,584 anti-tank landmines, 180,858 small arms ammunition, 12,423 cluster bombs and 48,572 other explosive items in Artsakh. The HALO Trust looks to complete Artsakh demining efforts by 2020. For more information on the Safe Steps for the people of Karabakh campaign visit www.halotrust.org/MineFreeNK