Armenian Assembly, Congress Push Artsakh Demining with HALO Trust

Washington, D.C. – Today 101 members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in support of humanitarian demining efforts by the HALO Trust in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian Assembly of America, the largest, non-partisan Armenian-American advocacy organization in the United States, along with partners The HALO Trust and supporting member offices, worked to increase awareness and generate support for this critical humanitarian effort.

“The Armenian Assembly is proud to support the work of The HALO Trust as it seeks to protect the people of Nagorno-Karabakh by removing deadly mines and munitions,” said Mariam Khaloyan, Congressional Relations Director of the Armenian Assembly of America. “We greatly appreciate the bipartisan commitment from Members of Congress in supporting this humanitarian effort. The current crisis underscores the importance of The HALO Trust’s life-saving work.”

“It’s clear that more needs to be done to protect the people of Artsakh and bring lasting peace to the region,” said Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA). “Demining efforts save lives and this conflict has put thousands at stake. The peace process must resume. I’m hopeful Administrator Barsa will act quickly to fund demining and unexploded ordnance removal in Nagorno Karabakh to prevent avoidable casualties during and after the conflict.”

“As an international aid organization dedicated to removing the types of lethal explosive hazards now strewn throughout Nagorno Karabakh, we at HALO hope to see strong US funding to respond to this humanitarian crisis unfolding in the south Caucasus. We greatly appreciate the leadership of Representatives Jim Costa, Devin Nunes, TJ Cox, Gus Bilirakis, Brad Sherman, Bill Johnson, Judy Chu, John Katko, and the many other Members of Congress that signed onto this letter to urge US support,” said Chris Whatley, HALO USA Executive Director.

A chilling side effect of the ongoing military assault by Azerbaijan against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh is the increasing quantity of unexploded ordnance, including cluster munitions, present throughout civilian areas. The HALO Trust is a long-time partner of USAID, and Members of Congress are seeking immediate funding to increase its capabilities and conduct emergency activities to protect civilians in the region.

“The ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is a humanitarian crisis that needs immediate international attention. In the same breath, it is crucial the US maintain funding for humanitarian demining in the region. We should not have to fight tooth and nail for peace and basic human rights. I am proud to join my bipartisan colleagues in highlighting this need to USAID,” stated Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA).

“Azerbaijan’s indiscriminate bombing of Nagorno Karabakh has left cities, including Stepanakert, with high levels of explosive contamination, such as rockets, missiles, and cluster munitions. We need a trained and capable team on the ground working to remove the explosive ordnance which pose a danger to the families who remain, and those looking to return. It is important that the U.S. Government moves to support the emergency removal of explosive ordnance in Nagorno Karabakh as soon as possible. Thank you to Representatives Jim Costa, Devin Nunes, TJ Cox, Gus Bilirakis, Bill Johnson, Judy Chu, and John Katko for joining in this important effort to provide stability to Nagorno Karabakh,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).

“I’ve been to Nagorno Karabakh and I’ve seen the amazing work HALO has done to remove mines and UXO to make this land safe to live on again. This work is only more important now as Azerbaijan continues to attack civilian areas in Nagorno Karabakh. The US must continue our support for this life saving work to clear the lethal debris of Azerbaijan’s hostility,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).

The Armenian Assembly of America is especially grateful to the following Members of Congress for issuing a letter sent to John Barsa, the Acting Administrator for USAID, in support of this important humanitarian effort.

The letter was co-led by Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), TJ Cox (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Judy Chu (D-CA), and John Katko (R-NY), and co-signed by Reps. Alma S. Adams, Ph.D (D-NC), Colin Allred (D-TX), Jim Banks (R-IN), Karen Bass (D-CA), Don Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Sandford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Gil Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Danny Davis (D-IL), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Ruben Gallego (D-IL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Josh Harder (D-CA), Chrisy Houlahan (D-PA), Henry ‘Hank’ Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), William Keating (D-MA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Steve King (R-IA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Susie Lee (D-NV), Barbara Lee (D-TX), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James McGovern (D-MA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), John Moolenaar (D-MI), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Mark Pocan (D-WI), David Price (D-NC), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Harley Rouda (D-CA), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT), and John Yarmuth (D-KY).

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 non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

For more information, contact: Mariam Khaloyan at mariam@aaainc.org

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NR #2020-42

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