The Analyst (Monrovia)

Liberia: Unmil, Local Staff in Dialogue After Protest

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and representatives of its national staff are dialoguing after a protest staged by the latter last Friday over "poor work conditions", according to UNMIL spokesman, Aleem Siddique.

He told the Liberia News Agency Sunday that UNMIL is taking the concerns of the national staff "seriously" and hence the dialogue.

He disclosed that UNMIL started discussions with the protesters on Friday while the demonstration was ongoing, but noted the UN Mission had no prior knowledge of the reasons for the protest.

The UNMIL spokesman said everyone has the right to protest in a peaceful and non-violent manner and within the confines of the law.

Siddique regretted that the protest at its Logistics Base on Bushrod Island turned violent with an assault on one UN Police and three civilians UN staff.

"The severity of the violence and threat during the demonstration were so serious that the Liberia National Police had to intervene and make some arrests, the UUNMIL spokesman said.

He confirmed the arrests of three of the protesters but clarified that they were later released by the police pending further investigation.

Siddique said UNMIL was cooperating with the police to help prosecute perpetrators of the protest to the full extent of the law.

On claims that a number of the protesters from the UN National Staff Association were brutalized and hospitalized, Siddique said the claimants need to bring such cases to the attention of the UN Mission.

He said there were a number of security breaches during the protest and a probe was going on, noting that those found liable will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

Siddique reiterated that the peace and security of Liberia remains cardinal to the UN mission in Liberia.

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