Peace Corps Temporarily Relocates Honduras Volunteers To Panama
November 4, 1998Washington, D.C., November 4, 1998—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan announced today that the agency has begun temporarily relocating all 200 Peace Corps volunteers from Honduras after Hurricane Mitch ravaged that country.
A group of 23 volunteers who were undergoing training were relocated to Panama by air today. An additional 42 volunteers who are gathered in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and other central meeting points will depart tomorrow for Panama, and the remaining volunteers will depart for Panama as soon as possible.
"Because of the devastation in Honduras, we felt it was best to relocate our volunteers to Panama for the time being," said Gearan. "While our volunteers are in Panama, key members of our staff will remain in Honduras to assess the situation and determine when our volunteers can return."
Once in Panama, some volunteers will continue to receive language and cross-cultural training. Others will attend workshops and other sessions. Currently, about 90 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in Panama.
Peace Corps staff members are talking regularly with families of Peace Corps volunteers in Honduras whom the Peace Corps has been unable to contact.
All of the 400 Peace Corps volunteers serving in the surrounding countries—Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize—have been contacted and are safe. Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated from Belize last week as a precautionary measure, but returned to that country yesterday.
Currently, about 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 80 countries to bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, help start new businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.