Peace Corps Suspends Program in Chad
April 20, 1998Washington, D.C., April 20, 1998—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan announced today that the Peace Corps has suspended its program in Chad after determining that the agency could not run a viable program and ensure the safety of all its volunteers.
All 34 Peace Corps volunteers who were serving in Chad are safe and are attending a conference in Yaounde, Cameroon. Many of the volunteers will transfer to serve in other countries in Africa.
"At a time when we are seeking more Americans to serve in the Peace Corps, it is particularly important to honor our long-standing commitment to ensure the health and safety of our volunteers," said Gearan. "And while this decision is necessary in light of the circumstances in Chad, we reached the decision with regret and hope that future circumstances permit our return."
Gearan said that over the last few months, several Peace Corps volunteers have been reassigned within Chad because of incidents of violence and civil disturbance near their assigned sites. No volunteers were injured, but the incidents caused enough concern for the Peace Corps to look closely at the situation. That review led to the suspension of the program.
Because interest in the Peace Corps remains so strong at home, President Clinton has proposed expanding the Peace Corps, putting the agency on the path to 10,000 volunteers serving overseas by the year 2000. The proposal is the largest funding increase requested for the Peace Corps since the 1960s.
Currently, about 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 83 countries to help fight hunger, bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, start new businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.