PEACE CORPS TO END PROGRAMS IN KIRIBATI

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Action blamed on unreliable air service

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 3, 2008) – The American Peace Corp program is expected to end its commitment to Kiribati this year as a result of transportation problems.

The program's country director, Michael Koffman, says unreliable domestic air services over the past couple of years have made it too dangerous for volunteers to be left on the remote outer islands.

The remaining staff are expected to leave Kiribati in October - a move that will end a 35-year mission in the country.

Mr Koffman has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that he has been troubled by unreliable air services for years.

"There's been a history of erratic and unreliable domestic flight issues in Kiribati," he said.

"Peace Corp is a rather unique agency. We send our volunteers to the most remote islands, the outer islands, in Kiribati.

"So it is important that when we place them out there that we can provide them with the support and security that they are entitled to.

"And the big issue is when we put our volunteers out on these outer islands, if we don't have any domestic air that is operational, if there is any kind of medical emergency we are unable to get to them in an expedient manner and that's our major concern."

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