12:32 GMT03 March 2021
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    An unpaid intern for the United Nations Office in Geneva, where the cost of living ranks as one of the highest in the world, has resorted to living in a tent in a city park. The famed international organization, which touts itself as a protector of human rights, appears rather stingy when it comes to taking care of its young employees.

    "I did not choose the most waterproof tent in the store," David Hyde, 22, of New Zealand admitted to the Tribune de Genève newspaper, adding that on really stormy nights it gets even harder to sleep on his patch of ground.

    Hyde's Geneva "residence" is not far from Lake Geneva and the UN Beach Club, where well-paid employees soak up the sun and sip cocktails. Every morning, Hyde puts on his suit and packs up his tent and other belongings to march off to his unpaid job.

    Just as other unpaid interns at the UN, Hyde passed numerous and complex tests prior to entering the organization.  In addition to be uncompensated, Hyde is neither covered by medical insurance nor was he provided any reimbursement for transportation costs to get to Switzerland. He has a masters degree in international relations and spent a semester in Sciences Po in Paris, and he arrived in Geneva for his internship two weeks ago.

    "How do the others do it?" he asked of other interns at the UN who are also paid no salary.

    "Finally only those with parents who can pay have a chance," he concluded.

    Hyde's attempts to find an affordable studio or a room to rent were in vain.  

    It's still unclear whether he'll decide to leave Geneva before the end of his six-month term.

    "I was perhaps naive in coming here but this policy (of not paying interns) makes me furious. If I leave before my internship ends, I will get no UN certificate, " says Hyde.

    The Geneva Interns Association (GIA) has called on the UN and other Geneva-based international organizations to revise its policies, and in May GIA members gathered for a ‘Pay Your Interns' demonstration in front of UNOG headquarters to raise awareness for the ‘discriminatory situation of non-paid internships' exploiting young workers.

    The UN, famous for promoting fair labor practices and condemning exploitation, doesn't abide by its own values, the Association claims.

    Excellent brainstorming in different groups yesterday during the Pay Your Interns assembly. We have identified some…

    Posted by Geneva Interns Association (GIA) on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    The UN has recently raised the salaries of senior staff and lowered salaries of junior and mid-level staff.

    Ahmad Fawzi, director of the UN News and Media Division, told Tribune de Genève that the UN and its Geneva-based agencies have 162 interns employed every year. In 2013, More than 68% of them were unpaid.  

    The UN and its agencies are also exempt from Swiss federal labor laws and regulations.

    #PayYourInterns! #UNpaidisUNfar!

    Posted by Geneva Interns Association (GIA) on Friday, May 1, 2015

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    Tags:
    discrimination, UN, New Zealand, Geneva
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