Peace Corps Suspends Program in Gabon

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 8, 2005 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced today that the Peace Corps will officially suspend its program in the African nation of Gabon effective August 31. The decision comes after a 2-year review of operations that showed significantly higher costs to support the volunteers in Gabon relative to other Peace Corps programs in Africa.

"The Peace Corps regrets the necessity to suspend the program in Gabon after a 31-year partnership with its citizens. More than 1,460 Americans have respectfully and honorably assisted the people of Gabon as Peace Corps volunteers through a long history, dating back to 1963 when the first group arrived to build schools in rural areas," said Director Vasquez.

All Peace Corps volunteers in Gabon completed their primary projects in the sectors of health and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, education, and environmental education. As of July 5, all Peace Corps volunteers had completed their service and left the country.

Factors contributing to the program suspension include the high cost of the Gabon program, weighing in at over three times as much as the average Peace Corps program in Africa, and a scarcity in finding host country counterparts to work with the volunteers and ensure their transition into the community—an element that is critical in the volunteers\' success. In addition, a 2003 Inspector General report documented safety and security costs of $1 million that would be necessary to keep the program operating successfully. The Peace Corps will continue to assess the situation in Gabon and will look at the possibility of re-entry in the future.

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