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An unpaid intern at the United Nations, who says he lived in a tent because he could not afford the high rent in Geneva, quit his job on 12 August.
David Hyde from New Zealand has been spending his nights in a tent mounted on a patch of grass near Lake Geneva since he started his internship, according to Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve. Reading out a written statement to media gathered in front of the United Nations headquarters, Hyde said he had decided to quit his internship of his own accord, because it would be too difficult to continue in his role.
The 22-year-old has a degree in international relations and spent a semester at French university Sciences Po in Paris before coming to Geneva, the Tribune de Geneve reported. Hyde said he had been turned down from intern placements in the past when he admitted to not having sufficient resources to finance himself.
"After graduating, I began to apply for jobs, but all I could really find was internships. And in every interview, the same questions always came up towards the end: 'Can you afford to fully fund yourself for the duration of this internship?' When I answered this with an honest 'No', my application was declined," he said.
"And so, when I applied for this role with the UN, I did not fully disclose my true financial situation. I said I had enough to support myself when really I didn't. And I got the job," he added.
Hyde said he knew what he was signing up for when the UN specified his job would be unpaid with no additional perks.
"The UN was clear about their internship policy from the start. No wage or stipend, no transport help, no food allowance, no health assistance. I understood this and in that regard I have to take responsibility for accepting the internship in the first place," he said.
Hyde said the system of unpaid internships was unfair and that interns all over the world need to come together and push for the recognition of their value and equal rights they deserve.
"As the declaration of human rights states so clearly: Everyone, without discrimination has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration. I hope to see the United Nations become a role model for all on the issue of internships in the future," he said.