The Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration will commemorate International Day of Peacekeepers on Friday 29 May, 2015.
Permanent secretary for Defence, National Security and Immigration, Mr Osea Cawaru said this is first time ever that the event is being held at such a magnitude in Fiji.
“Globally, UN member states through its militaries have supported the UN as Troop Contributing Countries (TCC). As the role of Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) differ depending on the varied dynamic levels of conflict, TCC continue to participate depending on military capability and national policies that govern participation,” Mr Cawaru said.
“The contribution of member states have also been used as a tool and leverage for foreign policies and to foster, improve and establish international partners.
“The visionary foresight by the Government after Independence in 1970 to foster and build Fiji’s international reputation and relations was leveraged by Government’s initial commitment to Peacekeeping since 1978.”
Mr Cawaru said this is an achievement for Fiji politically with its small military force.
“Despite the shortfalls and challenges, the Republic of Fiji Military Force’s pre-deployment imperatives and in thereafter participation has been coordinated and facilitated by RFMF, which also included liaison and coordination with Government, DPKO and the Office of Fiji’s Permanent Representative in United Nations (PRUN) in New York,” he said.
“The RFMF formal participation in PKO commenced with the 1FIR troops deployment to United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 1978 until 2002 then was redeployed again in February, 2015.
“It was followed by our continued deployment of 2FIR troops to Multinational Observer Force (MFO) in the Sinai Desert, Egypt since 1982.
“The participation in the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) Bougainville from 1994 to 200, Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) from 2002 to 2006 and in the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMISET) from 2000 to 2005 mirrored our contribution to regional peace and stability.
“In 2003, the continued participation of the Fijian United Nations Guard Unit (UNGU) to Bagdad, Iraq to protect the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) facilities and personnel during the Iraq war. This was not a Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) mission but arranged with Department of Political Affairs (DPA). In 2013, despite the internal conflict in Syria, 1FIR was deployed to United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights. Apart from troop deployments, RFMF also participated in United Nations Military Observer (UNMO) missions in Rhodesia, Kuwait, Sudan and Iraq.”
Mr Cawaru said that as we remember and dedicate the UN Peacekeepers Memorial Day tomorrow, it is only appropriate to pay honour and tribute to those that have paid the ultimate price for peace in all our Peacekeeping Missions that the RFMF and the Fiji Police Force have actively participated in.
“In UNIFIL Lebanon, 35 peacekeepers’ lives were lost, MFO Sinai 15 peacekeepers’ lives were lost, UNITAET three peacekeepers’ lives were lost, UNAMI Iraq five lives were lost and UNIMISS South Sudan a peacekeeper lost his life. As we remember our fallen heroes, it is also befitting to acknowledge the sacrifice, dedication and commitment of the families of our fallen peacekeepers. It would be also timely to remember and pray for our current peacekeepers serving around the globe who are now faced with complex, dynamic and difficult situations that have become the realities of contemporary peacekeeping,” Mr Cawaru said.
“The United Nations in Fiji is supporting the UN Peacekeepers Memorial Day event.”