Peace Corps Suspends Program in Bangladesh

March 15, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 15, 2006 Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez has announced the suspension of the Peace Corps program in Bangladesh.

"When I visited Bangladesh last July, government ministers and local leaders had only praise for the friendships and bonds volunteers had formed in their communities. On the whole, the people of Bangladesh respected the commitment and dedication of Peace Corps volunteers," said Director Vasquez. "However, given current concerns for volunteer safety, Peace Corps regrets that we will not be able to maintain a presence in the country at this time."

The safety and security of volunteers is the number one priority of the Peace Corps. Therefore, all Peace Corps volunteers serving in Bangladesh have safely left the country.

Peace Corps volunteers first served in Bangladesh throughout the 1960s when it was known as East Pakistan. Peace Corps closed the program prior to Bangladesh declaring its independence in 1971 due to political tension and impending war. The Peace Corps first entered the People's Republic of Bangladesh in November 1998. At that time, 35 trainees were sent to work in English teacher training and primary education.

Peace Corps decided to temporarily suspend the program in October 2001 as a precautionary measure following the 9/11 attacks. The program re-opened in August 2002 with programs in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and youth development. At the time of the suspension, 70 volunteers were in country. More than 280 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Bangladesh.

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