October 1, 2001 - Peace Corps Suspends Programs in Central Asia

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 10 October 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: October 1, 2001 - Peace Corps Suspends Programs in Central Asia

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, October 01, 2001 - 9:56 am: Edit Post

Here is the official Press Release from the Peace Corps regarding the suspension of Programs in three Central Asian countries:


Information Regarding Suspension of Peace Corps Programs in Central Asia Washington, D.C., October 1, 2001 -- The Peace Corps announced today its decision to suspend its programs in the Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The 105 currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers and American staff in Turkmenistan were relocated last week to Washington, D.C. The 149 Volunteers and American staff from Uzbekistan and the 57 Volunteers and American staff from Kyrgyzstan returned to Washington, D.C. over the last few days.

The Peace Corps has been assessing the viability of its program in these particular countries because of the security environment in the region. Extensive attention has been given to the safety and security for our Volunteers and to strengthening Peace Corpsí capacity to evaluate, to prevent and to respond systematically to security issues as they arise.

Peace Corps is working to provide options to allow the 311 volunteers to continue their service in other Peace Corps posts, continue with another humanitarian organization or to re-enter the Peace Corps at a later date.

Nearly 1,200 Volunteers have worked in Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan since the first groups arrived in 1993. Initial projects focused on the teaching of the English language, health education, environmental work and business development. Outside of the classroom, Peace Corps Volunteers have taught over 12,750 students and have worked with local counterparts to establish resource and computer centers, drama and sports clubs and to enrich local libraries.

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, October 20, 2001 - 8:41 pm: Edit Post

Here is a story from the Daily Illini on the evacuation of volunteers:

Peace Corps evacuates volunteers

Peace Corps evacuates volunteers

Leslie Hague Assistant news editor

Jeff Thorn of Savoy heard about the terrorist attacks on America from his taxi driver in Uzbekistan as he was leaving that country.

"He was telling me how crazy it was, how awful it was, how there was going to be a war and how the world was a crazy place," Thorn said.

Thorn, a Peace Corps volunteer, was scheduled to leave his Peace Corps contract in Uzbekistan on Sept. 12. He left on time, but the other 130 volunteers in Uzbekistan were evacuated from the country a week and a half later.

On Oct. 1, the United States announced the suspension of its Peace Corps programs in Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. All three countries border on or are close to Afghanistan.

The Peace Corps has no current programs in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

"Based on the information given to us, we decided for the safety of the volunteers it was best to suspend the programs," said Scot Roskelley, Peace Corps public affairs specialist for the Chicago Regional Office.

The Peace Corps is in constant communication with the U.S. State Department to discuss issues of volunteer safety, Roskelley said.

Although he left when planned, Thorn said he felt bad for the volunteers who had to leave on such short notice.

"It's hard enough to leave when you know you're going to," he said. "When they give you 24 hours and one bag, and you can't tell your friends ... that's a horrible thing."

A fourth program, in Bangladesh, was suspended Thursday for at least three months due to "a volatile political environment due to the recent election results and ongoing anti-American sentiment," according to the Peace Corps Web site.

Volunteers in central Asia were working in business, computers, teaching and environmental work.

Thorn, who taught English to high school students, said he is worried for the residents of the countries who now have no Peace Corps volunteers. He said much of Uzbekistan's future depends on whether other international agencies pledge help.

"Their sympathies lie with America," Thorn said, "but it's a country that doesn't have a lot going for it. And now it's even worse."

Roskelley said it was hard for many of the volunteers to return to the United States.

"They're very married to their work," he said.

However, Roskelley said most feedback from current Peace Corps volunteers around the world was positive.

"We've had wonderful letters describing the support for the U.S. and Peace Corps," Roskelley said. "You've established a relationship with a community."

"Even the strangers I met were upset for America," Thorn added.

In addition to losing four countries' programs, the Peace Corps lost a regional office Sept. 11. The group's Mid-Atlantic office was not in the World Trade Center towers but was in a building that was part of the World Trade Center complex, so the entire office was destroyed.

"I don't think they've even been able to go back in the building," Roskelley said.

However, the Peace Corps is still actively recruiting on college campuses. Recruiters were at the University this week to talk to students, especially French speakers and certified teachers, as well as students with agriculture and forestry backgrounds.

There has been a 25 percent increase in Peace Corps volunteers during September and October, but Roskelley thinks increase might be indicative of not only a patriotic country but also a weak economy.

By D.P. Montgomery (referencedesk.wooster.edu - on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 12:35 pm: Edit Post

I was just nominated for a teaching position in Central Asia. I wonder what this development with mean for a future placement. There was no mention of suspending the Kazakhstan program, so maybe it will still come through. I feel for everyone that had to pull out early.

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