Peace Corps To Send Crisis Corps Volunteers to Mauritania

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 30, 2002—Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced today that four Peace Corps volunteers will become Crisis Corps volunteers and assist efforts in Mauritania to recover from severe flooding.

Torrential rains and gusting winds hit the southern Trarza, Brakna and Gorgol regions of Mauritania between January 9 and 11, 2002 causing destruction and loss of lives. According to the government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the two days of heavy rains resulted in 25 deaths, the loss of 107,000 animals (the equivalent to the savings accounts for these populations), more than 475 hectares of agricultural land destroyed, and 10,700 families left homeless.

The Red Crescent of Mauritania, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, requested the assistance of Peace Corps’ Crisis Corps volunteers to help the most vulnerable homeless families in the district of Dar El Barka, located in the southern part of the country in the Brakna region, to rebuild their homes and to undertake other disaster mitigation activities such as reforestation. The Crisis Corps volunteers will be working in coordination with Red Crescent volunteers to facilitate teams of community members, masons and apprentices in constructing up to 100 mud brick homes.

Peace Corps has sent Crisis Corps volunteers to provide short-term disaster relief and humanitarian response assistance since 1996. To date, more than 460 Crisis Corps volunteers from the Peace Corps have served in 30 countries on programs involving HIV/AIDS, disaster relief, humanitarian response, and post-conflict country assistance. Current programs include HIV/AIDS assignments in education and outreach in Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Togo.

Due to the unique skills and language qualifications needed for Mauritania, four strongly qualified and motivated candidates have been selected for service. It is anticipated that once cleared for service medically and legally, they will arrive in Mauritania on June 11, 2002. The Volunteers will work on woodless (mud brick) construction until the rainy season begins (usually late July) and then move to reforestation work until the program ends on September 30, 2002.

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