Ethiopia: Peace Corps Volunteers Return to Ethiopia (October 2007)

After nearly a decade's absence, the United States Peace Corps has returned to Ethiopia. On October 2, 2007, United States Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto and Ethiopia's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu signed a Peace Corps Country Agreement. The agreement reestablishes the United States Peace Corps presence in Ethiopia. "The return of Peace Corps to Ethiopia is an important part of the United States' commitment to building a more prosperous Ethiopia," said Ambassador Yamamoto.

With support from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), 43 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Ethiopia on October 7, 2007 to work with the people of Ethiopia in their fight against HIV/AIDS. The volunteers will spend two-year assignments working under the Ministry of Health/HAPCO in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support, including work with orphans and vulnerable children.

Ethiopia is strategically important to the United States and to the region in promoting peace and security, advancing economic development, and creating a better and more prosperous future for the people of the region. Peace Corps Volunteers work with people who want to build a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities.

The U.S. Peace Corps was first established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, when he challenged young people to serve their country in promoting world peace and friendship by living and working in other countries. Between 1961 and 2007, more than 187,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have been invited to serve in 139 countries.

Ethiopia was one of the first countries to invite the Peace Corps to establish its program of peace and friendship. In September 1962, 279 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Ethiopia to serve as secondary school teachers. From 1962 to 1977 and then again between 1995 and 1999 when the program closed due to conflict in the region, Peace Corps/Ethiopia was one of the largest Peace Corps programs in the world, with Volunteers working in education, health, small business, rural development, law, and agriculture. During this period, more than 3,500 Volunteers served in rural communities all over Ethiopia. In January 2007, Peace Corps was pleased to accept the Government of Ethiopia's request to resume activities.

Country Director for Peace Corps/Ethiopia Peter Parr said at today's signing ceremony, "It is a great honor for me to come home to Ethiopia where I lived for many years as a young person, and for me and the Peace Corps/Ethiopia family to be able to share in the realities of building more extensive relations between the people of Ethiopia and the people of the United States."

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