March 15, 2020
WASHINGTON – The following is an open letter to Peace Corps Volunteers from Director Jody Olsen.
I know this is a very stressful time for you and your families, your host communities and the staff at your post.
As you know, we recently evacuated Volunteers from China and Mongolia due to the COVID-19 outbreak and related travel constraints and school closings. Further evacuations are now under way at several posts. Unfortunately, it has become clear in the last 48 hours that numerous posts must follow suit.
It is against this backdrop that I have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all Peace Corps operations globally and evacuate all of our Volunteers. As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to safeguard your well-being and prevent a situation where Volunteers are unable to leave their host countries.
Evacuations are difficult, emotionally draining experiences for everyone involved. We are here for you, and we will do all that we can to keep you informed and up to date on the latest developments. Ensuring your health, safety and security is the highest priority of the Peace Corps. I want to stress that Headquarters remains open under its own Continuity of Operations Plan, and agency personnel are working 24/7 to support you and our staff overseas.
I also want to assure you and our host country partners that these evacuations represent the temporary suspension of Volunteer activities. We are not closing posts, and we will be ready to return to normal operations when conditions permit. Importantly, our host country staff will remain in their current positions. They play a critical role in every element of the Peace Corps mission, especially in a time of crisis.
Look for more information from your Country Director in the hours ahead. I deeply appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through these logistically challenging operations.
My thoughts are with you, and I am incredibly grateful for your service.
Jody K. Olsen
About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 235,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.