Côte d’Ivoire: ONUCI local staff protest for compensation

Local staff of the United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) hit streets on Thursday in Abidjan and Bouake to demand compensation for the non-renewal of their contracts as the mission is ending its activities in the West African nation next year.

“We demand the payment of compensation to 713 Ivorians working with the UNOCI due to the permanent closure of the mission,” Olivier Gnaore, president of the Association of Locally Recruited UNOCI Staff told reporters.

According to local media, about 300 people, dressed in black, blocked the main entrance of the headquarters of UNOCI in the capital Abidjan, carrying a large banner that reads: “We agree to the departure of UNOCI … but pay our allowances!”

Later on Thursday, the spokesperson of UNOCI, Kadia Ledron, said “the payment of such compensation is not part of the staff conditions of service as stipulated in the contract.”

He noted in a statement that “the rules governing the staff concerning the non-renewal of contracts with UNOCI is a subject of manipulation and false information to create the impression that the dismissal entitles them to severance benefits.”

The number of officers deployed under the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI) is expected to be reduced from the current 4,000 to 2,000 by Aug. 31, 2016.

From January to April 2017, the UN will reduce the figure by 650 officers. The closure of the mission and repatriation of the equipment will occur between May and June 2017.

Currently, ONUCI is focusing on promotion of national reconciliation, demobilization of ex-combatants, promotion of human rights and supply of humanitarian aid.