Peace Corps Volunteers in Mauritania are Safe

August 8, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 8, 2008 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter announced today that all Volunteers and trainees serving in Mauritania are accounted for and safe.

On August 6, 2008, Mauritanian top generals and military units staged a coup and seized power from President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi as well as the Prime Minister of Mauritania. The overall situation in Mauritania is now calm; the airport and borders are open.

All 154 Volunteers and trainees are confirmed safe and are no longer on stand-fast mode. Volunteers have also returned to their sites. Peace Corps staff in Mauritania remains in regular communication with Volunteers in the regions. Volunteers remain in good spirits and are maintaining a very professional attitude, and trainees are maintaining their training schedule.

The U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps continue to monitor the situation closely and have asked that Americans remain watchful and vigilant. The Peace Corps staff in Washington maintains constant communication with the staff at post, the U.S. Embassy, and the State Department. The U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps offices in Nouakchott remain open.

Each Peace Corps program has an Emergency Action Plan specific to that country and developed in cooperation with Peace Corps Washington and the local U.S. Embassy. The plans are evaluated and tested frequently and information is updated constantly. Volunteers are thoroughly trained in their roles and responsibilities, and posts are prepared for all emergencies.

Families may contact the Peace Corps' Office of Special Services with any questions or concerns they may have. Special Services maintains a 24-hour a day, 7 days a week duty system. The telephone number during standard office hours is 1-800-424-8580, Extension 1470; the after hours number is 202-638-2574. The Office of Special Services can also be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]

Since 1967, the Peace Corps has sent more than 1,200 Volunteers to the western African country of Mauritania. Volunteers strive to increase agricultural production, encourage reforestation and dune stabilization, execute health care, supply clean water, and develop formal and informal business sectors. Volunteers are also working in the areas of education and environmental preservation, as well as projects dealing with girls' education and information technology.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 47-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are more than 8,000 Volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served, including Mauritania. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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