FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, June 7, 2001
Information Regarding the Indefinite Suspension of the Peace Corps Program in Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Washington, D.C., June 7, 2001—The Peace Corps’ decision to suspend indefinitely its program in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was announced on May 31, 2001. Over the next several days the Peace Corps’ 24 currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers in PNG, its field office staff in Port Moresby, and the Government of PNG were formally advised of this decision. It is expected that all Volunteers will leave Papua New Guinea by mid-July. They will be given the option to transfer to other Peace Corps posts.
Because of the difficult security climate in PNG, over the last 16 months the Peace Corps has been assessing the viability of its program. Extensive attention has been given to safety and security issues and strengthening Peace Corps/PNG’s capacity to evaluate, to prevent and to respond systematically to security issues as they arise. The Peace Corps/PNG has made tangible and meaningful enhancements in all these areas including relocation of Volunteers based upon security considerations.
However, trends over which the Peace Corps has no control, suggest that there are no longer enough viable Volunteer assignments with potential for coherent and effective projects in the country’s safer areas to justify continuance of the program. While the Peace Corps does not believe that the situation in PNG warrants an immediate evacuation, we are moving expeditiously with plans for the departure of Volunteers during the first two weeks of July.
We deeply regret the suspension of our activity in PNG after a 20-year partnership with the Government and people of that nation. Though we view the suspension as necessary at this time, we remain interested in PNG’s future and would consider reactivating the program if future conditions permit.
Nearly 800 Volunteers have worked in PNG since the first group arrived in September 1981. Initial projects focused on Fisheries and Rural Community Development. Subsequent projects included Health and Small Business Development. Recent projects focused on Secondary School Education, in which PCVs taught Math, Science, and English, and Rural Community Development, which involved a host of community-based activities including health education, natural resources management, income generation, and non-formal education (adult literacy, bookkeeping, and distance learning).
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