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Peace Corps Suspends Program in Madagascar; All Volunteers Evacuated Safely

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 17, 2009 - Peace Corps acting Director Jody Olsen announced today that the Peace Corps has suspended its program in Madagascar because of ongoing concerns about volunteer security. All Volunteers have been safely evacuated to South Africa.

"The safety and security of our Volunteers remains the Peace Corps' highest priority," said Olsen. "The Peace Corps has a long-standing commitment to development in Madagascar, and has maintained excellent relationships with the Malagasy people. Therefore, our decision to suspend the program was made with sincere regret. We sincerely hope that future circumstances will permit our return."

These actions were precipitated by anti-government protests and looting that have been taking place on and off in Madagascar since late January, primarily in Antananarivo, and in some regional cities.

All Peace Corps Volunteers have been safely evacuated from Madagascar and are now in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they will take part in a transition conference. They will be offered the option to complete their service or explore other Peace Corps service options available to them. Volunteers in Madagascar were working in the areas of education, environmental and agricultural conservation, health and HIV/AIDS awareness, hygiene promotion, animal and wildlife preservation, and business development.

Families with concerns or questions may contact the Peace Corps/Madagascar Desk at 202-692-2324 during business hours, and the Office of Special Services after hours. The Office of Special Services maintains a 24-hour, 7 days a week duty system. The telephone number during standard office hours is 1-800-424-8580, Extension 1470; the after hours number is 202-692-1470. The Office of Special Services can also be contacted via e-mail at ossdutyofficer@peacecorps.gov.

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Historically, over 195,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served. Applications to serve in the Peace Corps have increased 16 percent this past year, the largest boost in the last five years. Currently, 7,876 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in 76 countries. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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