The United Nations multi-country office in Fiji is refusing to confirm or deny reports it has sacked up to 40 local employees and is replacing them with overseas interns.

This week, several claims surfaced online from development workers in the country, claiming the UN office sent home local staff without prior notice.

In a response to RNZ Pacific the office said “staff have been consulted” but it did not specify whether the claims of staff being sent home were true.

The UN office said it was introducing changes to its multi-country office over the next five years.

It said the changes were “to align the UN office to the new vision and programme for the Pacific, that respond to the evolving needs of people and countries”.

“The process of strategic realignment is being conducted through a transparent, competitive, and rigorous process, based on standard UNDP human resource policies and procedures,” the statement from the UN office said.

It added throughout the process all employees have been consulted.

Meanwhile, RNZ Pacific asked if the decision to suspend the staff was made in reaction to the recent investigations against the UN Resident Coordinator Sanaka Samarasinha.

A spokesperson from the UN office in Suva confirmed “the investigation against Samarasinha and the current Strategic Review of the UNDP Pacific Multi Country Office in Fiji are not linked in any way”.