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PM Formally Closes Lebanon Mission, Visits Golan Troops

PM Formally Closes Lebanon  Mission, Visits Golan Troops
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (fourth from left) with the Commander of the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto (third from left) and Ambassador Satyendra Prasad and the United Nations Fijian peacekeepers during his visit to Lebanon.
December 07
08:26 2018

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama last night formally closed the Fijian Battalion peacekeeping mission in Southern Lebanon.

He travelled from Katowice in Poland, where he was attending COP24 to meet the Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

He thanked Major-General Stefano Del Col of Italy who has been in office for only four months. He replaced Major-General Michael Beary of Ireland in August this year.

Major-General Stefano Del Col of Italy with Mr Bainimarama.

Major-General Stefano Del Col of Italy with Mr Bainimarama.

 

Mr Bainimarama will then travel to the Golan Heights in Syria to thank the Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) where Fijian troop numbers will be reduced by 50 personnel.

The reduction is due to the reconfiguration of peacekeeping troops and greater amount of peace in the UNDOF’s operational area.

He is accompanied by Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto and Ambassador Satyendra Prasad, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

The Lebanon-based Fijian troops will be returning to Fiji for good on December 21 after 14 months deployment.

Fijian troops first started their peacekeeping mission there in 1978.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Fijian troops in Lebanon.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Fijian troops in Lebanon.

 

The UN mandate ended shortly after  the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), launched a retaliatory attack, dubbed Operation Grapes of Wrath, in UNIFIL’s area of operation in 1996.

It was in response to artillery rounds fired by armed elements towards Israel from Qana.

When it was over 500 plus people were dead and five Fijian peacekeepers were among the injured. Miraculously, no Fijian was killed.

The UN mandate was renewed in 2015 and Fijian peacekeepers returned to Southern Lebanon.

More than 34 Fijians died while serving with UNIFIL.

It is understood that that troops will be deployed  to take up other responsibilities.

  • There was an error earlier in the Print Edition because of a communication problem. It was incorrectly reported, that there will be a troop reduction by 50 per cent. In fact, it should have been 50 personnel .
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