The University of California announced this week that it is temporarily suspending its fall 2002 study abroad program in India in light of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.
Currently no UC students are in India, but 15 were scheduled to attend programs in Delhi and Hyderabad this summer. Five of the students are from UC Berkeley.
“When we send students overseas to study, the number one priority for the University of California has got to be student safety,” said UC spokesman Hanan Eisenman.
The university made its decision after considering the U.S. State Department’s May 31 advisory to American citizens to leave India because of growing hostilities between India and Pakistan. The two countries are disputing the state of Kashmir.
On Wednesday, the State Department issued an updated, more strongly-worded advisory.
“Conditions along India's border with Pakistan and in the state of Jammu & Kashmir have deteriorated,” the statement read, urging U.S. citizens to leave the region. “Tensions have risen to serious levels, and the risk of intensified military hostilities between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out.”
The statement noted that terrorist groups, some with links to al-Qaida, are operating in the area.
“We have to take it seriously when the State Department (issues an advisory),” Eisenmann said.
The university will leave the infrastructure and staff of its study abroad program in place and could renew the program.
“We’re going to monitor the situation,” Eisenmann said. “If things improve, the program could still go forward.”
Earlier this semester, the university recalled students from Israel in response to growing Israeli-Palestinian tensions. But because UC operates only a fall program in that country, it does not face the prospect of recalling students from India this semester.
In the past the university suspended study abroad programs in China, after the Tiananmen Square uprisings; in the Middle East, during the Gulf War and in Indonesia, during the civil unrest of 1999.
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