UN now takeover negotiations with Syrian rebels

Fiji’s 45 peacekeepers are still in the hands of the militants who captured them last week. We must thank all Fijians who are praying for their safety. After they completed
03 Sep 2014 07:51

Fiji’s 45 peacekeepers are still in the hands of the militants who captured them last week. We must thank all Fijians who are praying for their safety.

After they completed their first round of negotiations with the rebels, now the experts from the United Nations in New York have taken over from the previous negotiators.

The al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front has reportedly taken responsibility for the Fijian peacekeepers’ abduction, saying it was in retaliation for the UN’s “collusion” with the army of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.

“The UN has completely ignored the daily shedding of Muslims’ blood in Syria,” the Nusra Front said, in a report, which could not be independently confirmed by news agencies. The report also accused the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), to which the peacekeepers belong, of repeatedly allowing Assad’s forces to attack “vulnerable Muslims” in the area.

Despite assurances by the Nusra Front that the captured soldiers were being treated well and were in good health, the Reuters news agency reports that authorities in Fiji have expressed concern that they do not know exactly where the soldiers are being held.

As of yesterday the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga said the soldiers had been taken away to a place far from any military attack.

The Nusra Front had accused the UN of doing nothing to help the Syrian people since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. In a statement it  said the Fijians were seized in retaliation for the UN’s ignoring “the daily shedding of the Muslims’ blood in Syria” and even colluding with Assad’s army  “to facilitate its movement to strike the vulnerable Muslims” through a buffer zone in the Golan Heights.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday in Apia, Samoa, where he is attending the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States again called for the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers seized in the Golan.

“I again demand the immediate and unconditional release of these brave blue helmets who deployed to the region to bring stability for the sake of the people,” Mr Ban said.

Mr Ban spoke to the Prime Minister, Rear Admiral (Retired) Voreqe Bainimarama.

“I explained the current status of negotiations with armed groups between our Force Commanders and United Nations entities and armed groups,” Mr Ban said, and “assured him the United Nations would spare no efforts to have early release of Fijian peacekeepers,” he said.

“We are working around the clock for their release.”

The new twist now is the list of three demands the militants are making and they are –

– That the militant group ‘Al Nusra Front’ is to be removed from the UN Terrorist List

–  That the UN provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Ruta located in the outskirts of Damascus, the area where the ‘Al Nusra Front’ originates from.

–  The UN to compensate the Al Nusra Front for the three fatalities they had suffered.

Germany has condemned the peacekeepers’ abduction, with President Joachim Gauck expressing his dismay in a message to the UN Secretary General.

Fiji is not alone, as other foreign countries had totally condemned the abduction of the peacekeepers.

The German foreign ministry likewise condemned the incident “in the strongest terms” and demanded the peacekeepers’ release.

Let us all be united and support all efforts made for the 45 detained brave peacekeepers to be released back to the Fiji camp safely and in good health.



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