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RFMF Clean

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From left Former United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander now Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jioji Konrote, Former RFMF Commander, Sitiveni Rabuka and RFMF Landforce Commander Sitiveni Qiliho
June 19
11:21 2015

Fijian peacekeepers have a clean record, says the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

The RFMF says they are not included in a new United Nations report on sexual abuse and exploitation.

RFMF Land Force Commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho said: “We’ve never been involved in such cases.”

Damaging information leaked to the media revealed that UN peacekeeping troops commonly paid for sex with cash, dresses, jewellery, perfumes, and mobile phones. A draft study said 480 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse had been made between 2008 and 2013, of which one-third involved children.

The report says that “to the enduring shame of the organisation”, sexual exploitation and abuse still continued in UN peacekeeping operations. It recommends that victims of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers be compensated for the harm they have suffered.

The panel was chaired by former president of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta.

Colonel Qiliho said our troops were well-trained.

“That is part of the package on pre-deployment training.

“We have sessions on gender issues, illegal activities and also customs and traditions of where we are going. What may be acceptable here may not be acceptable in other countries.”

Colonel Qiliho’s comments were supported by two former Commanding Officers in Sinai and Southern Lebanon.

Sitiveni Rabuka served in Lebanon from January 1980 to July 1981.

In Sinai, he served for the November 1983 to July 1985.

“Never during my time,” Mr Rabuka said.

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jioji Konrote served from 1986 to 1987 in Sinai. He also served as UNIFIL Commander in Lebanon.

“The reputation of the Fijian battalion is high. What UN peacekeepers from other countries get up to that’s their problem.

“We don’t want to be tainted by what other countries did, it has nothing to do with the Fijians. You can’t taint everybody with the same brush,” he said.

“Let’s not forget the sacrifice our soldiers – their service in the Middle East is not easy.

Na ka keimami dau vadreta vei ira o ya na yaca ni noda vanua, matanitu kei na lotu.

(We emphasise to the soldiers the name of our country Fiji, our land (vanua) and God (lotu).)

“Our reputation is perhaps the best in the world in terms of peacekeeping,” he said.

The UN currently has about 125,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

 

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