In October 2008, Grapes for Humanity held a fund-raiser dinner at The Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. The proceeds were donated to HALO’s Mine Risk Education team in Nagorno Karabakh to purchase two ambulances to carry landmine victims in hospital.
Over the last decade, Nagorno Karabakh has suffered one of the world’s highest per capita casualty rates from landmines, cluster bombs and other unexploded ordnance UXO), with more than two casualties per thousand of population. Fortunately, great progress has been made in recent years to remove the threat. After working steadily in the region since 2000, The HALO Trust and its sister organization The HALO Trust (USA), Inc. (collectively, “HALO”) have cleared almost 25 million square metres of minefield and 112 million square metres of battlefield, and destroyed 51,150 landmines and other explosive items. Concurrent with this work, HALO teams have provided mine risk education to affected communities to help them develop coping mechanisms for living among landmines, as well as a backup ambulance service available to supplement the resources of local authorities in remote areas. Nagorno Karabakh is turning a corner: statistics show just six casualties in 2007 and three in the first few months of 2008, markedly down from the 2004 peak of 43.