FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Peace Corps/Kenya Program Temporarily Suspended
Volunteers remain safe and hope to return to Kenya soon
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 5, 2008 - Peace Corps operations in Kenya will be temporarily suspended to ensure the safety of the 58 remaining Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Kenya. With growing instability in Kenya, and following the unrest associated with the recent elections on December 27, 2007, these Volunteers who remained working at their sites in the eastern, central and coastal regions of Kenya, will now be transitioning out of service.
Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter said, "Our first priority is the safety and security of our Volunteers. Over 5,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Kenya in the last 42 years, building deep friendships with the people there. The Peace Corps has become an integral and positive element of the U.S. partnership with Kenya and the Kenyan people."
The 58 Volunteers from the eastern region of Kenya will be granted close of service in good standing, or offered an opportunity to transfer to another Peace Corps country. The ultimate goal of Peace Corps/Kenya is to return Volunteers to their communities in Kenya when the security situation improves. The Peace Corps staff will remain in Kenya and maintain the program during the temporary suspension.
Peace Corps/Kenya had a total of 144 Volunteers serving at the time of the recent elections. During the initial post-election unrest, Volunteers were consolidated in a variety of safe locations. On January 4, Volunteers in the western region of Kenya were moved from their sites and began transitioning out of the country, due to the growing security concerns. Some of the western Kenya Peace Corps Volunteers were transferred to volunteer assignments in other Peace Corps countries; others ended their service in good standing and returned to the U.S.; and some have opted to temporarily suspend their service in hopes of returning to Kenya soon.
Since 1965, more than 5,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Kenya. Volunteers work in the areas of education, small business development, and health and HIV/AIDS prevention. Volunteers in Kenya also served in a unique deaf education program which began in 1992 as a way to train educators on better teaching methods, and to broaden the production of learning materials and facilities for deaf and hard of hearing students. The program now includes computer training and health and HIV/AIDS education programs, as part of the President\'s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Peace Corps/Washington is in constant communication with staff in Kenya and the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The Peace Corps will continue to evaluate and monitor the situation.
Each Peace Corps program has an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) specific to that country and developed in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps/ Washington. The plans are tested frequently and information is updated constantly. Volunteers are thoroughly trained in their role and responsibilities in the EAP. Posts are prepared for all emergencies.
The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and 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 Kenya. 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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