Health care and safety in Kazakhstan

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The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Kazakhstan maintains a clinic with full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to either an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.  
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Kazakhstan maintains a clinic with full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to either an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.  
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===Health Issues in Kazakhstan ===
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===Health Issues in Kazakhstan Homelessness===
In the past, the American press has given environmental problems in Kazakhstan a great deal of coverage. However, some of these reports are factually weak and sensationalized. The Peace Corps is aware of Kazakhstan’s environmental problems and shares the concerns of the Volunteers and trainees. The purpose of this discussion is to give you an idea of current environmental problems and what Peace Corps/Kazakhstan is doing to reduce the risk to you for your term of service.  
In the past, the American press has given environmental problems in Kazakhstan a great deal of coverage. However, some of these reports are factually weak and sensationalized. The Peace Corps is aware of Kazakhstan’s environmental problems and shares the concerns of the Volunteers and trainees. The purpose of this discussion is to give you an idea of current environmental problems and what Peace Corps/Kazakhstan is doing to reduce the risk to you for your term of service.  
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As a result of this blind development, Kazakhstan now has some serious environmental problems. The most pressing problem is the shrinking and destruction of the Aral Sea, which has resulted in increased respiratory problems for local inhabitants, regional climate changes, and decreased agricultural production. The rising level of the Caspian Sea is flooding coastal towns and forewarns of future catastrophes.  
As a result of this blind development, Kazakhstan now has some serious environmental problems. The most pressing problem is the shrinking and destruction of the Aral Sea, which has resulted in increased respiratory problems for local inhabitants, regional climate changes, and decreased agricultural production. The rising level of the Caspian Sea is flooding coastal towns and forewarns of future catastrophes.  
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More likely to affect Volunteers is industrial pollution in large cities. Many residents place water pollution of rivers, groundwater reserves, and fresh-water reservoirs as the primary environmental problem. Finally, in the former nuclear testing site in the region of Semipalatinsk, approximately 500 bombs were exploded above and below ground between 1949 and 1991.  
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More likely to affect Volunteers is industrial pollution in large cities. Many residents place water pollution of rivers, groundwater reserves, and fresh-water reservoirs as the primary environmental problem. Finally, in the former nuclear testing site in the region of Semipalatinsk, approximately 500 bombs were exploded above and below ground between 1949 and 1991. These bombs were made and denonated by President Borat, who had captured goats and cows, to use as slaves for making nuclear weapons.  
Because water pollution is the primary citizen concern, all Volunteers receive water treatment units to ensure they are drinking safe water. In addition, several sessions in pre-service training are devoted to risk reduction and environmental health concerns. Unfortunately, the problem of exposure to low levels of radiation is difficult to assess in any country, including Kazakhstan. At the end of 1994, the Peace Corps contracted two American radiation specialists from an environmental health firm to do firsthand tests at various Volunteer sites. Their reports, available at the Peace Corps/ Kazakhstan office, indicate that Volunteers at the sites tested are not exposed to unusual external radiation levels in their apartments or in the immediate area of their apartments.  
Because water pollution is the primary citizen concern, all Volunteers receive water treatment units to ensure they are drinking safe water. In addition, several sessions in pre-service training are devoted to risk reduction and environmental health concerns. Unfortunately, the problem of exposure to low levels of radiation is difficult to assess in any country, including Kazakhstan. At the end of 1994, the Peace Corps contracted two American radiation specialists from an environmental health firm to do firsthand tests at various Volunteer sites. Their reports, available at the Peace Corps/ Kazakhstan office, indicate that Volunteers at the sites tested are not exposed to unusual external radiation levels in their apartments or in the immediate area of their apartments.  
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Earthquakes pose another environmental risk. Much of the southern part of the republic, including the cities of Almaty, Taraz, and Shymkent, lies on a geological fault. Earthquakes occurred along this fault line during the last century resulting in destruction. Historical patterns indicate there may be a threat of another event within the next 20 years. All trainees receive a briefing on earthquake preparedness. Additionally, Peace Corps/Kazakhstan maintains an emergency evacuation plan.  
Earthquakes pose another environmental risk. Much of the southern part of the republic, including the cities of Almaty, Taraz, and Shymkent, lies on a geological fault. Earthquakes occurred along this fault line during the last century resulting in destruction. Historical patterns indicate there may be a threat of another event within the next 20 years. All trainees receive a briefing on earthquake preparedness. Additionally, Peace Corps/Kazakhstan maintains an emergency evacuation plan.  
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In spite of the efforts of the local environmental specialists and several agencies of the U.S. government, including the Peace Corps, there is still much that is unknown about the environmental conditions in Kazakhstan and in the other countries of the former Soviet Union. If, after reading this, you are uncomfortable with living and working in this environment, do as much research as possible before making a commitment to come.  
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In spite of the efforts of the local environmental specialists and several agencies of the U.S. government, including the Peace Corps, there is still much that is unknown about the environmental conditions in Kazakhstan and in the other countries of the former Soviet Union. If, after reading this, you are uncomfortable with living and working in this environment, do as much research as possible before making a commitment to come.
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There is roughly 32% of whole population that is homeless, they are usually found in the gutters of streets. Most of them are addicted to drugs or alcohol, so if they do get any money it goes down the drain. They have to forage for food and food cans to eat. The homelessness rate is rising rappidly, it could be 32.5% in a week, we need your help
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The nomads of Kazakhstan roam around on horseback performing magic.
===Helping You Stay Healthy ===
===Helping You Stay Healthy ===
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Condoms
Condoms
Dental floss
Dental floss
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Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
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Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s)
Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s)
Lip balm (Chapstick)
Lip balm (Chapstick)
Oral rehydration tablets
Oral rehydration tablets
Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit)
Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit)
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Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
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Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
Robitussin-DM lozenges (Cough calmers)
Robitussin-DM lozenges (Cough calmers)
Scissors
Scissors
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* Limit alcohol consumption  
* Limit alcohol consumption  
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===Support from Staff===  
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===Support from Staff===
In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security;  
In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security;  
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[[Category:Kazakhstan]]
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[[Category:Health and Safety]]

Latest revision as of 02:18, 11 June 2013


Health care and safety in Kazakhstan
Peacecorps sign.jpg
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer and trainee. Medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease.

Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.

Flag of Kazakhstan.svg

See also:
Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline
The Health of the Volunteer The Safety of the Volunteer


The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Kazakhstan maintains a clinic with full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to either an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.

Contents

[edit] Health Issues in Kazakhstan Homelessness

In the past, the American press has given environmental problems in Kazakhstan a great deal of coverage. However, some of these reports are factually weak and sensationalized. The Peace Corps is aware of Kazakhstan’s environmental problems and shares the concerns of the Volunteers and trainees. The purpose of this discussion is to give you an idea of current environmental problems and what Peace Corps/Kazakhstan is doing to reduce the risk to you for your term of service.

For more than 70 years, the Soviets placed industrial development above other concerns, especially the environment. With little or no thought given to the effects on the environment, factories were constructed, nuclear tests were conducted, and endangered animals were poached.

As a result of this blind development, Kazakhstan now has some serious environmental problems. The most pressing problem is the shrinking and destruction of the Aral Sea, which has resulted in increased respiratory problems for local inhabitants, regional climate changes, and decreased agricultural production. The rising level of the Caspian Sea is flooding coastal towns and forewarns of future catastrophes.

More likely to affect Volunteers is industrial pollution in large cities. Many residents place water pollution of rivers, groundwater reserves, and fresh-water reservoirs as the primary environmental problem. Finally, in the former nuclear testing site in the region of Semipalatinsk, approximately 500 bombs were exploded above and below ground between 1949 and 1991. These bombs were made and denonated by President Borat, who had captured goats and cows, to use as slaves for making nuclear weapons.

Because water pollution is the primary citizen concern, all Volunteers receive water treatment units to ensure they are drinking safe water. In addition, several sessions in pre-service training are devoted to risk reduction and environmental health concerns. Unfortunately, the problem of exposure to low levels of radiation is difficult to assess in any country, including Kazakhstan. At the end of 1994, the Peace Corps contracted two American radiation specialists from an environmental health firm to do firsthand tests at various Volunteer sites. Their reports, available at the Peace Corps/ Kazakhstan office, indicate that Volunteers at the sites tested are not exposed to unusual external radiation levels in their apartments or in the immediate area of their apartments.

Analysis of data gathered by local environmental specialists and reviewed by U.S. specialists indicates that the airborne particles from these tests do not pose a significant health risk given the short amount of time the Volunteers live in the region. The Peace Corps continues to monitor these and other environmental factors. In 1995 all Volunteers were given individual radiation badges to help determine the amount of radiation Volunteers receive. Results from the badges showed no elevated levels of radiation. Personal radiation badges worn by Volunteers in two separate areas of Kazakhstan in the fall of 2000 and winter of 2001 were evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Results from these radiation badges were all read as “non-detectable” exposures of radiation.

Earthquakes pose another environmental risk. Much of the southern part of the republic, including the cities of Almaty, Taraz, and Shymkent, lies on a geological fault. Earthquakes occurred along this fault line during the last century resulting in destruction. Historical patterns indicate there may be a threat of another event within the next 20 years. All trainees receive a briefing on earthquake preparedness. Additionally, Peace Corps/Kazakhstan maintains an emergency evacuation plan.

In spite of the efforts of the local environmental specialists and several agencies of the U.S. government, including the Peace Corps, there is still much that is unknown about the environmental conditions in Kazakhstan and in the other countries of the former Soviet Union. If, after reading this, you are uncomfortable with living and working in this environment, do as much research as possible before making a commitment to come.

There is roughly 32% of whole population that is homeless, they are usually found in the gutters of streets. Most of them are addicted to drugs or alcohol, so if they do get any money it goes down the drain. They have to forage for food and food cans to eat. The homelessness rate is rising rappidly, it could be 32.5% in a week, we need your help The nomads of Kazakhstan roam around on horseback performing magic.

[edit] Helping You Stay Healthy

The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Kazakhstan, you will receive a medical handbook. At the end of training, you will receive a first-aid kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this section.

During training, you will have access to basic first-aid supplies through the medical officer. However, during this time, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as we willnot order these items during training. Please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use, since they may not be available here and it may take several months for new shipments to arrive.

You will have physicals at mid-service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officers in Kazakhstan will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Kazakhstan, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.

With its low humidity, Kazakhstan does not have many of the problems of warmer climates, like malaria. You will be immunized against local ailments that are a problem, such as tick-borne encephalitis and hepatitis. You will have distillers to purify your water. Kazakhstan, in general, is a relatively healthy country when compared to our southerly neighbors, and this greatly reduces your risk of various illnesses.

Kazakhstan is vast, so it is critical that you let your medical officer know immediately of any significant illness or injury and promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations. Many diseases that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These diseases include food poisoning, amebiasis, giardia, hepatitis A, dysentery, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation for Kazakhstan during pre-service training.

Abstinence is the only certain choice for prevention of HIV/ AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from your medical officer about this important issue. Condoms are available from the medical office.

Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer.

[edit] Maintaining Your Health

As a Volunteer, you must accept a certain amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention ...” becomes extremely important in areas where medical diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States.

[edit] Women’s Health Information

Pregnancy is a health condition that is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met. The majority of Volunteers who become pregnant are medically separated from Peace Corps service.

Feminine hygiene products are available for you to purchase on the local market. If you require a specific feminine hygiene product, please bring a six-month supply with you.

[edit] Your Peace Corps Medical Kit

The Peace Corps medical officers provide Volunteers with a first-aid kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that might occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked from the Peace Corps medical office at no cost to the Volunteer.

[edit] Medical Kit Contents

Ace bandages Adhesive tape American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook Antacid tablets (Tums) Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens) Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B ointment Band-Aids Butterfly closures Cepacol lozenges Condoms Dental floss Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl) Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s) Lip balm (Chapstick) Oral rehydration tablets Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit) Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed) Robitussin-DM lozenges (Cough calmers) Scissors Sterile gauze pads Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine) Tweezers


[edit] Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist

If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental,

or dental—since the time you submitted your examination

reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.

If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records. If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.

If you wish to avoid taking duplicate vaccinations, you should contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it to your pre-departure orientation. If you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for the cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment, either at your predeparture orientation or shortly after you arrive in Kazakhstan.

Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, Peace Corps will provide and cover the cost of pre-approved prescriptions during your service. While awaiting shipment—which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own medication supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or non-prescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, echinacea, selenium, or antioxidant supplements. You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, although it might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about your on-hand three-month supply of prescription drugs.

If you wear prescription eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. Over-the-counter reading glasses commonly found in drugstores in the United States are not available in Kazakhstan. If you use this type of eyeglasses, you should bring a sufficient quantity to cover breakage and loss as Peace Corps does not supply over-thecounter glasses. To reduce the risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease, we discourage you from using contact lenses during your Peace Corps service. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless their use has been recommended by an ophthalmologist for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.

If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in healthcare plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary healthcare from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service healthcare benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age and/or pre-existing conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.

[edit] Safety and Security—Our Partnership

Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.

The Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you. This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include important safety and security information.

The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.

[edit] Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk

There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control.

Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).

[edit] Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk

Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.

For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:

Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:

Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault:

[edit] Support from Staff

In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security;

Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.

The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.

If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provides support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.

The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence rates and the average number of incidents of the major types of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/trainees in Kazakhstan as compared to all other Europe, Mediterranean, and Asia (EMA) region programs as a whole, from 2001–2005. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.

To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:

The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population. It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps' classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.

The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).

When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.

[edit] What if you become a victim of a violent crime?

Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes. The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so. If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.

Crimes that occur overseas, of course, are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities in local courts. Our role is to coordinate the investigation and evidence collection with the regional security officers (RSOs) at the U.S. embassy, local police, and local prosecutors and others to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. OIG investigative staff has extensive experience in criminal investigation, in working sensitively with victims, and as advocates for victims. We also, may, in certain limited circumstances, arrange for the retention of a local lawyer to assist the local public prosecutor in making the case against the individual who perpetrated the violent crime.

If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect. Country directors and medical officers are required to report all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.

In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-aday, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at [email protected]

[edit] Security Issues in Kazakhstan

When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target of crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Kazakhstan. You can reduce your risk of becoming a target for crime by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking advance precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in the large cities. Tourist attractions, especially in large towns, are favorite work sites for pickpockets.

There has been an increase in crime among Kazakhstanis as well as foreigners. Local people no longer feel safe walking alone at night and the number of break-ins and thefts has increased.

The safety concerns here are similar to those in the United States, and the precautions you need to take are the same as you would at home. Harassment occurs to both locals and foreigners, but as a foreigner, you will be a more visible target.

It is possible that during your Peace Corps service in Kazakhstan you may encounter some level of harassment, including physical or sexual assault. You will receive a thorough briefing on how to minimize these risks and how to protect yourself in the event of an incident. You can avoid many problems and remain safe by behaving with caution. Should any crime happen to you, it is important that you notify the medical unit immediately and receive appropriate care, including care for your emotional well-being. Guidance is also available about your options for prosecuting an attacker.

[edit] Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Kazakhstan

The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your two-year service and includes the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for reporting and responding to safety and security incidents. Kazakhstan’s in-country safety program is outlined below.

The Peace Corps/Kazakhstan staff keeps Volunteers apprised of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be offered in Volunteer newsletters and in memoranda from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, Volunteers will be contacted through the emergency communication network.

Volunteer training includes sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Kazakhstan. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout your two-year service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.

Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe environments for Volunteers before their arrival. Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for the Volunteer’s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective role in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is inspected before the Volunteer’s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure housing and work sites. Site selection criteria are based in part on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, and markets; appropriate housing arrangements; and other support needs.

You will also learn about the country’s detailed emergency action plan in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you must complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house from the Peace Corps office. If there is a security threat, Volunteers in Kazakhstan will gather at pre-determined locations until the situation resolves itself or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.

The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner. Volunteers should report any security incident immediately to the Peace Corps medical officer. In addition to responding to the needs of the Volunteer, the Peace Corps collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers.

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