Peace Corps evacuates Burkina Faso's volunteers

More than 2,075 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Burkina Faso since the program was established in 1966

Burkina Faso

The United States embassy in Burkina Faso says it has evacuated all Peace Corps volunteers from the West African country due to security concerns. An embassy statement stated that 124 volunteers have traveled back to the US. It says the Peace Corps program has been closely monitoring the safety and security environment in Burkina Faso and looks forward to a time when volunteers can return. The statement didn't specify a concern, but Islamic extremists have been launching increased attacks.

"The Peace Corps has been closely monitoring the safety and security environment in Burkina Faso and will continue to assess the situation," it said in the statement. "The Peace Corps looks forward to a time when volunteers can return while underscoring that the safety and security of its volunteers are the agency's top priority".

At the same time, a spate of assassinations in villages in the north has sparked fears Burkina Faso is following the path of its neighboring country Mali, which has been on the brink of collapse since jihadists overran part of the country in 2012. Burkina Faso is among five nations in the semi-arid Sahel region that have pledged to deploy a special force, by the end of the year, to fight Islamist militants.

Two months ago, the Department of State warned US citizens of the risks of travelling to Burkina Faso, recommended they avoid venturing to the northern part of the Sahel region, and exercise caution in the rest of Burkina Faso due to continuing threats to safety and security, including terrorism.

Last month, an attack on a Turkish restaurant killed 19 people. Days later, three soldiers were killed in the restive north where a local radicalized movement, Ansarul Islam, is targeting security forces and civilians.

The way to influence societies is not solely through intimidation or economic isolation, but also through an integrated cultural exchange, whose effects will endure through political administrations and fluctuating diplomatic relations. No organization does a better job of forging this exchange than the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. The stated mission of the Peace Corps includes providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand American culture, and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries. More than 2,075 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Burkina Faso since the program was established in 1966.

 

Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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