UNISFA bows to pressure, fires engineering department head: A rejoinder

21 Feb 2018

UNISFA bows to pressure, fires engineering department head: A rejoinder

The attention of United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) is drawn to a news story carried by Radio Tamazuj under the caption “UNISFA bows to local pressure, fires engineering department head,” and credited to the Ngok Dinka paramount Chief, Bulabek Deng Kuol, alleging that Mr. Laith Haddadin, UNISFA’s Chief Engineer, was fired for employing foreigners to do casual work instead of members of the local community. This allegation is factually incorrect.

First raised in late 2017, the allegation that UNISFA is employing foreigners was, along with such other issues as the impact of a new camp management services provider on local employment, discussed during several meetings with the local chiefs and the Individual Contractors (ICs). UNISFA advised that not only were foreigners not being employed to perform unskilled labour, but also the fear that the new camp management contract would negatively impact local employment was unfounded. The Chief Mission Support organized a town hall meeting on 13 January 2018 to again allay some of these fears and highlight some of the benefits that would derive from the new camp management contract, but the town hall meeting was boycotted. Instead, the ICs called for a strike.

UNISFA wishes to reiterate that the Chief Engineer has not hired foreigners, or attempted to deprive the local community of jobs. Indeed, no casual worker from outside the Abyei box has been hired by UNISFA other than a small number of technically skilled workers, whose expertise cannot be found locally. Also, the Chief Engineer has not been fired. Rather he has been temporarily relocated because of threats to his life by a small number of misinformed individuals.

The Chief Engineer remains a staff member of UNISFA, and will retain his post until specific allegations of misconduct are brought against him, and verified through a proper, independent investigation. The notion that Mr.  Laith Haddadin has been fired is therefore inaccurate and misleading.

UNISFA remains fully committed to its mandated tasks and welcomes renewed constructive engagement with all stake holders in order to enable the mission to maintain the peace and security that is needed for the people of Abyei to go about their normal activities.