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Armenian Assembly of America Working to Expand Demining Initiatives in Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

(L-R): Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Leo Sahakian, Assembly Board Member Annie Totah, Marshall Legacy Institute Executive Director Perry Baltimore III, Armenian Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Hrachia Tashchian, with a mine detection dog.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last month, Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) board member Annie Totah and executive director Bryan Ardouny attended the Marshall Legacy Institute’s (MLI) 18th Annual Clearing the Path Gala where they met with officers, supporters, and activists for the K9 Demining Corps Campaign. MLI’s K9 Demining Corps Campaign seeks to improve the quantity and quality of mine detection dogs (MDDs) in countries all over the world.

“As a lifetime partner of the Marshall Legacy Institute’s demining project, and our decades-long support of HALO Trust initiatives in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, the Assembly is pleased with the results achieved to date and is committed to seeing current projects completed in the years to come,” stated Assembly Board Member Annie Totah.

In 2002, the Assembly became one of the first participants of MLI’s K9 Demining Corps Campaign and sponsored six MDDs for Armenia. The accomplishments of the Assembly-sponsored MDDs include clearing landmine areas in Armenia along its border with Azerbaijan that is today used for farming, grazing, and other agricultural initiatives, as well as transportation and infrastructure projects.

(L-R): Assembly Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian, Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, HALO Trust USA Executive Director Tom Faust, HALO Trust Director Andrew Moore.

Also last month, HALO Trust Director Andrew Moore and HALO Trust USA executive director Tom Faust sat down with Assembly staff in their headquarters to discuss current projects and accomplishments on the ground in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

“Most Armenian Americans are unaware that there is a landmine problem in Nagorno Karabakh and that the per capita accident rate is among the highest in the world – higher even than Cambodia and Afghanistan,” stated HALO USA Executive Director Tom Faust. “We are grateful for the Armenian Assembly’s help to raise awareness of this important humanitarian issue. HALO’s aim is to clear all minefields in Karabakh so that the people who are most affected by the landmine threat can leave behind this deadly and forgotten legacy of war and live safer and more productive lives,” Faust said.

Since 2000, HALO Trust staff has cleared almost 90% of all landmines in Nagorno Karabakh, resulting in 66,718 acres of cleared land to be used by local residents. In 2013 alone, HALO Trust employed 175 Karabakhi staff and cleared over 370 acres of land as part of their “Landmine Free Artsakh” initiative.

Assembly Board Member Annie Totah at a HALO Trust facility in Nagorno Karabakh in 2002.

MLI is a non-profit, humanitarian organization founded in 1997 on the 50th Anniversary Year of the Marshall Plan. MLI works to continue the legacy of U.S. statesman George C. Marshall into the 21st century by providing war-torn, landmine-affected countries with the tools and training they need to help rebuild.

HALO Trust USA is a non-profit organization founded in 1988 and began operations in Nagorno Karabakh in 1995 to clear landmines from war affected regions. HALO Trust is guided by the principles of humanitarianism; respect for people’s rights and dignity; integrity, honesty, and transparency; independence and impartiality; and efficiency.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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