Peace Corps/Madagascar Program Suspended

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2009 - Due to ongoing security concerns in Madagascar, Peace Corps acting Director Jody K. Olsen has approved an evacuation and temporary suspension of the Peace Corps program in Madagascar. Peace Corps/Madagascar staff is now in the process of evacuating Volunteers.

These actions were precipitated by the anti-government protests and looting that have been taking place on and off since late January, primarily in Antananarivo, and some regional cities.

Peace Corps staff has been in daily communication with Volunteers, and all 112 Volunteers in Madagascar are accounted for and safe.

Peace Corps staff in Madagascar continues to work closely with the U.S. Embassy to carefully monitor the situation, and appropriate actions have been taken under the Peace Corps/Madagascar Emergency Action Plan.

The safety and security of Volunteers is the number one priority of the Peace Corps.

The invitee group that was scheduled to travel to Madagascar on March 10 has unfortunately been cancelled. Every effort is being made to ensure that those scheduled to go to Madagascar have the opportunity to carry out volunteer service in another country.

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/Madagascar Desk with any questions or concerns they may have at 202-692-2324 during business hours, and the Office of Special Services after hours. The Office of Special Services maintains a 24-hour, 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 202-692-1470. The Office of Special Services can also be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Over 811 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Madagascar since the program was established in 1993. Volunteers on this Indian Ocean island work in the areas of education, environmental and agricultural conservation, health and HIV/AIDS awareness, hygiene promotion, animal and wildlife preservation, and business development.

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Historically, over 195,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served. Applications to serve in the Peace Corps have increased 16 percent this past year, the largest boost in the last five years. Currently, 7,876 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in 76 countries, including Madagascar. 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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