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Sudanese security disperses protest by UNAMID’s former workers in El-Fasher

UNAMID local staff members protest in El-Fasher over non-payement of entitlements on 28 July 2016 (ST Photo)

April 19, 2017 (EL-FASHER) - The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Wednesday has dispersed a protest pause by the former local staff of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in North Darfur capital, El-Fasher.

More than 50 ex-workers have protested for two days in front of the UNAMID’s headquarters in El-Fasher for non-payment of financial dues owed to them since 2010.

Chairman of the Dismissed Staff Committee, Hafiz Abiad, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that they protested peacefully to demand their rights, saying his committee represents 263 Sudanese staff who were dismissed and their financial rights denied in Nayla, Zalngei, El-Geniena and El-Fasher.

“We started a three-day protest since Tuesday to demand our rights,” he said.

He added the mission shut down on Tuesday and the staff didn’t practice their regular work from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (local time), saying on Wednesday they engaged in a protest pause in front of the mission’s premises.

“However, the mission tried to provoke us by a show of force from the Indonesian riot police but we did not respond to those provocations,” he said.

Abiad pointed that UNAMID’s officials have notified the NISS, saying the latter dispersed the protest and took the workers to the NISS office in El-Fasher.

“We informed the NISS that our protest is peaceful and they told us that they are responsible for protecting the mission and they asked us to resort to the court and hire lawyers to defend our case,” he said.

However, Abiad stressed that they will continue their protest on Thursday.
Last December, 263 former UNAMID workers protested in front of the mission’s premises in four capitals in Darfur for non-payment of financial dues owed to them since 2010.

At the time, UNAMID issued a statement expressing serious concern over the protests by some of its former staff members saying they are “not peaceful in nature” and are “based on unfounded accusations and demand for payments that are not in line with the rules and regulations of the United Nations”.

The mission stressed that “all national staff that separated from the Organisation on 31 December 2015 have received all benefits owed to them for the period of their service with UNAMID, except for a relatively small group whose pension entitlements are being processed”.

“UNAMID is working closely with the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the body solely responsible for administering pension benefits, to finalise this category of payments,” added the statement.

It is noteworthy that the former staff members protested seven times during 2016 in four Darfur states to demand overtime pay.

The hybrid mission has been deployed in Darfur since December 2007 with a mandate to stem violence against civilians in the western Sudan’s region.

It is the world’s second largest international peacekeeping force with an annual budget of $1.35 billion and almost 20,000 troops.