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We’re Back At Camp Faouar

We’re Back At Camp Faouar
Republic of Fiji Military Forces women troops serving under UNDOF at Golan Heights. Some of them left for Camp Faouar in Syria on Saturday. It follows the Syrian army regaining control of the area from Islamic militants and rebels. Photo: Ema Tee Watisoko
November 14
11:04 2016

Eighty Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel returned to Camp Faouar, Syria, early Saturday morning.

The return to Camp Faouar comes after months of planning along with the assurance of the Syrian government of the security of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

Camp Faouar is situated on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

In mid September 2014 the United Nations had evacuated their main UNDOF headquarters in Syria into Israel due to the deterioration of security in the region as anti-Syrian government forces took over the area, including Islamic militant forces.

Forty-five Fijian peacekeepers were taken captive by an al-Qaeda linked Syrian rebel group – Nusra Front – after being ordered by the then Force Commander not to resist the heavily armed militants.

Leading the troops back to Camp Faouar are Major Viliame Finemateaki and Captain Vilikesa Tuiteci.

Well aware of the challenges ahead the pair said they were focused on the task ahead – to secure and rebuild what was once the UNDOF headquarters.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Daunivakasala Ravunaka, Regimental Sergeant Major Aminiasi Lepolo, and Battalion Chaplain Captain Savenaca Nakeke, escorted the troops to Camp Faouar.

The troops are reported to have travelled by road through Lebanon before crossing into Syria and then onto Camp Faouar.

In late June this year the 15-member United Nations Security Council unanimously called for a return of peacekeepers to Camp Faouar.

For an unspecified time-frame, our RFMF troops will assist in securing, rebuilding and maintenance of Camp Faouar before the remaining UNDOF troops follow.

Despite an emotional farewell at Camp Zioauni on the Israeli side of the border, morale was high with every Fijian soldier focused on the challenges ahead.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama visited our RFMF troops at Camp Zioauni last week.

He reminded the 80 military personnel going into Syria to be vigilant because he wanted everyone to return to their families safely.

Mr Bainimarama stressed the importance of family and as soldiers it was their duty to look after the well-being of their respective families.

Later next year, he said our Fijian troops would have available to them armoured personnel carriers within the operation area.

The Prime Minister had already secured Russian arms to better equip the peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, Mr Bainimarama arrives in Marrakech, Morocco, today for the COP22 Climate Change conference.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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