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Peace Corps volunteers out of Honduras

Jan. 18, 2012 at 9:42 AM

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Peace Corps pulled more than 150 volunteers from Honduras as the organization reviews security in the country, a Peace Corps spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman Kristina Edmonson said the 158 volunteers left Honduras after attending a weekend conference and were placed on administrative leave while the evaluation is conducted, CNN reported Wednesday.

A 2011 U.N. report said Honduras has the world's highest homicide rate, with 81.2 homicides per 100,000 residents.

"It is unfortunate that in the country right now -- given the situation of insecurity, violence and crime that every day increases -- international organizations are pulling back their aid and personnel," Migdonia Ayestas of the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras, told CNN.

Honduran officials have expressed regret over the Peace Corps' decision, announced in December.

Government statistics indicate 5,000 volunteers from around the world are in Honduras.

The Peace Corps also announced last month it canceled its January training classes for new volunteers in El Salvador and Guatemala.

"Peace Corps will continue to closely monitor and assess the safety and security climate and enhance support in these countries before making any further decisions," Edmunson said Tuesday.

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