June 15 , 2001- Peace Corps quitting PNG over security

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 01 to 07 January to July 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: June 15 , 2001- Peace Corps quitting PNG over security

By Admin1 (Admin) on Tuesday, June 19, 2001 - 8:31 am: Edit Post

June 15 - Peace Corps quitting PNG over security

Peace Corps quitting PNG over security


AFTER a 20-year partnership, US volunteer service Peace Corps is closing down its operations in Papua New Guinea, citing deteriorating security problems as the reason.

Even as news of the directive from the Peace Corps headquarters filtered out, several Peace Corps officers yesterday went through the trauma of witnessing an armed attack in a car park in Port Moresby, where someone's fingers were chopped off.

Country director Annamaria Watrin told The National yesterday: "We truly and deeply regret this decision" particularly when the volunteer service has served in PNG for 20 years.

This makes Peace Corps one of the longest serving volunteer organisations that has brought in a total of young 800 volunteers, mostly as teachers and rural community development members.

The volunteers have worked in remote areas like Bema, Menyamya and Wasu in Morobe province and Wasab in Madang and in areas like Misima, Goodenough in Milne Bay and many other rural outposts.

They have been subjected to aggravated assault, robbery at gunpoint, attacked while working alongside their local counterparts and have had their cars stolen and their homes broken into, according to Ms Watrin.

The Peace Corps headquarters in Washington DC had evaluated the country report and concluded that the risk factor in PNG was three times higher than other developing countries where it has operations in.

The Peace Corps operates in 80 countries all over the world.

Ms Watrin said in recent years, the number of volunteers entering PNG had dwindled from 80 to 40, and half of them left for home before finishing their two-year terms.

She said every week she had to deal with several security incidents involving the volunteers.

The head of the Peace Corps in Washington DC, Ellen Field issued a notice on June 7 advising of the closure of PNG operations and for all their staff to leave by mid-July.

"It is expected that all volunteers will leave Papua New Guinea by mid-July. They will be given the option to transfer to other Peace Corps posts.

"Because of the difficult security climate in PNG, over the last 16 months the Peace Corps has been assessing the viability of its program.

"Extensive attention has been given to safety and security issues and strengthening the Peace Corps/PNG's capacity to evaluate, to prevent and to respond systematically to security issues as they arise.

"The Peace Corps/PNG has made tangible and meaningful enhancements in all these areas, including relocation of volunteers based upon security considerations.

"However, trends over which the Peace Corps has no control, suggest that there are no longer enough viable volunteer assignments with potential for coherent and effective projects in the country's safer areas to justify continuance of the program," Ms Field wrote.

The closure will put 12 PNG employees out of work.

By sdosh on Thursday, December 06, 2001 - 10:21 am: Edit Post

.. too bad. . but having served in Micronesia. . the locals there used to always quip that, "He was a good man" took on a whole different meaning in PNG.. )=

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