BOSTON — The iconic images of the late Princess Diana walking on a mine field cleared by the HALO Trust in Angola 20 years ago shocked people around the world and put the issue of land mines on the global political map.
While that country has been cleared of mines, Karabakh (Artsakh) and its surrounding lands are still plagued by landmines. The work is now continuing as part of the Safe Steps for the People of Karabakh, destined to clear the area of landmines by the year 2020.
Lending his support is the patron of the UK-based organization, Prince Harry, son of the late princess. The royal, who has continued his mother’s legacy by backing a plan to rid the world of landmines by 2025, gave a powerful speech at Kensington Palace recently to mark International Mine Awareness Day.
“Twenty years ago, in the last months of her life, my mother campaigned to draw attention to the horrific and indiscriminate impact of landmines,” he said during the reception on behalf of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust.
Local supporters are led by Raffi and Nina Festekjian. Recently, the Festekjians were among those who had been invited to London for a reception, where they met with Prince Harry.
In a note, Nina Festekjian said, “Raffi and I met Prince Harry earlier this month, at an event hosted by The HALO Trust in London at Kensington Palace, where he gave a stirring speech that called on the international community to achieve the global goal of a Landmine Free 2025. Clearing Artsakh of minefields is a key milestone toward that goal as it is one of the deadliest places for landmine accidents in the world. More importantly, it answers the call to save Armenian lives and reinstate livelihoods by making this beautiful land viable again. To that end, we have secured a donor that is willing to double every donation we get, up to $4 million, to clear all the minefields in Artsakh — if we can raise matching funds to get it done.”