WASHINGTON, May 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security & Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) teamed up with Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees evacuated under COVID-19. Published today, "Voices of Peace Corps COVID-19 Evacuees," reflects the concerns raised by 461 evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees and highlights the need for extending existing benefits and programming that supports them during the COVID-19 crisis.
Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees were evacuated from over 60 countries with an average of 2 days' notice. Most evacuees are unable to obtain sufficient physical or mental health care and like many Americans, are now unable to find employment. Many do not have housing or economic security and are in a situation of uncertainty. Over 67% of respondents note that they will be without supplemental medical coverage after the initial 90 day period that Peace Corps covers and only 32.9% will have access to sufficient medical coverage after it expires. Marieme Foote, who was evacuated from Benin, states that "there are growing needs within the Peace Corps evacuated community. COVID-19 has offered various sets of challenges that Peace Corps Volunteers normally would not face upon returning to the U.S."
Another evacuated volunteer notes that "I have no home, no job and no health coverage in the middle of a global pandemic with little hope to find immediate employment and affordable housing." Many feel disturbed at having to leave their host country when in their view, they joined the Peace Corps to be in their host country during a crisis like COVID-19. They expressed deep concern about the communities they were forced to leave. They also expressed fear that COVID-19 may be used as an excuse to shrink or eliminate the Peace Corps.
Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees are highly skilled in public health, economic development, food security, and education, and are an important part of U.S. development efforts abroad. Given the dire situation of COVID-19 in the United States, 95.2% of the respondents said they are willing and interested in assisting domestic efforts. "Over 7000 volunteers fell into your lap a month ago, ready to serve, and we have been sitting at home just wishing we could do something to help, wishing we were back in our communities, and worried for our futures...put us to work."
These brave men and women dedicated their lives to serving our country and to promoting peace and security abroad. Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Executive Director of WCAPS notes, "As a person who sees the value of Peace Corps and the skills acquired by young people who want to make the world a more peaceful place for us all, as well as the dedication of WCAPS to peace and security, I am happy that WCAPS can present their stories."
WCAPS is hosting a webinar with Peace Corps Evacuees on May 20, 2020 at 10:00 AM to highlight their experiences and present their recommendations.