NEWS

PM Bainimarama Praises Golan Fijian Troops In Middle East Tour

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has thanked Fijian troops for their great service in the Golan Heights, Syria. He visited them as part of his Middle East tour. He said the
10 Dec 2018 10:00
PM Bainimarama Praises Golan Fijian Troops In Middle East Tour
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama meeting one of the many Fijian peacekeepers serving in the Golan Heights. Photo: DEPTFO News

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has thanked Fijian troops for their great service in the Golan Heights, Syria.

He visited them as part of his Middle East tour. He said the troops had helped in restoring calm in this volatile region and wished them well over the festive period.

The troops are members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). Mr Bainimarama was received by the Deputy Force Commander of UNDOF Brigadier-General Kuldeep Pathak (of India) who provided a detailed briefing of the area of separation between Israel and Syria – between the Sea of Galilee and Mt Sinai. Fijian troops are deployed on both the Israeli and Syrian sides in this region.
Mr Bainimarama took the opportunity to commend the troops for their excellent service to peacekeeping in this difficult region. Fiji has played a critical role in preserving this mission when internal conflicts started in Syria.

In 2014, a group of 45 Fijian peacekeepers were captured by Al Qaeda linked militants. They were released two weeks later.

Mr Bainimarama described the men then as “heroes”.

“They kept their cool and showed restraint under the most extreme circumstances imaginable [and] because of their discipline, not one militant was killed and none of our soldiers were harmed,” he said.

“As I often say, Fiji stands tall and proud in the world, and today because of these brave men, we stand even taller and prouder.”

Mr Bainimarama said despite the events in the Golan Heights, his country would continue to be involved in the UN’s peacekeeping efforts.

“It is a noble mission, which we will continue to perform whenever we are called on by the United Nations to serve,” he said.

“For the families, as for all Fijians, it is a matter of great pride that our peacekeepers are able to make such a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others who are less fortunate than us – who are vulnerable living in places that have been torn apart by division and violence.”

The latest situation is that relative calm has returned within the area of separation. Fiji’s troops will be consolidated on the Israeli side in the New Year and its total strength will be reduced by around 50.

The UNDOF mission hosts the largest of Fiji’s medical deployment. A team of two doctors and around 20 nurses provide full time service across three deployment sites in this region. Their services are also available to other forces from Ireland, Nepal and India.

The PM is accompanied by Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Satyendra Prasad and Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto, Mr Bainimarama’s wife Mary and Personal Staff Officers Major Isireli Tagivakatini and Captain Mafi Kolinisau.

Mr Bainimarama was due to meet his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, last night.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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