, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 20 – US Embassy officials are optimistic that the suspension of Peace Corp volunteer deployments to the country will be lifted next year.
PEPFAR Country Co-ordinator Katherine Perry told reporters on Friday that she was hopeful the volunteers would return to the country early next year and bolster HIV prevention efforts.
Acting Peace Corp Country Director Jim McCormick told Capital FM News that a team from Washington would carry out an assessment of the Security situation in the country in January “given the revised advisories.”
The US Congress, he said, would then need to give the green light.
The US government suspended Peace Corp volunteer deployments to the country in July of 2014 and the 72 volunteers who were in the country at the time departed given security concerns. “This was after the Westgate attack,” McCormick said.
Around the same time the US government moved some of its staff to other countries and, “the Embassy continues to consider carefully all US government-sponsored regional conferences and trainings in Nairobi and the number of temporary duty personnel coming to the country for official purposes,” the US State Department advisory on travel to Kenya, last updated on November 10, reads.
Following the suspension, McCormick said, Embassy staff attached to the programme – 31 in number – have tried to keep some of the activities the volunteers were engaged in alive. “We plan on setting up a HIV awareness camp in Meru as we mark World AIDS Day for instance.”
Kenya has hosted Peace Corp volunteers since 1964 and for periods between 3 months to two years they employ their skills at the grass root level to promote development and a cultural understanding.
In Africa their focus is on HIV prevention, girl child education, supporting democratisation processes, stemming of environmental degradation and ICT advancement.
At its peak there were 110 Peace Corp volunteers in the country at any one time. A number which, according to McCormick, will go down to 20 – to start with – should the suspension be lifted.