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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 15, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---After a 20-year partnership, the U.S. volunteer Peace Corps is closing down its operations in Papua New Guinea, citing deteriorating security problems as the reason.

Country director Annamaria Watrin told The National yesterday: "We truly and deeply regret this decision."

The Peace Corps has brought in a total of 800 American volunteers, mostly as teachers and rural community development members.

They have been subjected to aggravated assault, robbery at gunpoint, attacked while working alongside their local counterparts and have had their cars stolen and their homes broken into, according to Ms. Watrin.

Ms. Watrin said in recent years the number of volunteers entering PNG had dwindled from 80 to 40, and half of them left for home before finishing their two-year terms.

She said every week she had to deal with several security incidents involving the volunteers.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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