Peace Corps Volunteers Leave East Timor

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 8, 2006 Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced today that volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability.

In June of 2002, the first Peace Corps volunteers arrived in East Timor within a month of the country declaring its independence.

"It was a time of hope and celebration," Director Vasquez said. "Therefore, it is with much regret that volunteers had to be transitioned out of the country due to the recent violence."

The safety and security of Peace Corps volunteers is the highest priority. Peace Corps will continue to monitor the situation to determine if volunteers can safely return to East Timor and continue their work without security concerns.

In 2002, the first group of 19 volunteers was assigned to municipal development and health promotion activities. They were also the first international group to be trained in the local language, Tetum, and were placed at sites in rural towns and villages throughout the country. Since that time, 53 additional Peace Corps volunteers have served in East Timor in the areas of agriculture, business development, health and HIV/AIDS awareness and education.

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