The Fijian Government has agreed to a request by the United Nations to deploy “blue helmet” service personnel to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Syrian Golan Heights. The deployment comes at a time of heightened importance of UNDOF’s mandate to bring stability to the Middle East region.
In expressing the UN’s gratefulness for Fiji’s agreement to deploy to UNDOF, Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye, the UN Secretariat’s Military Advisor, said, “On behalf of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations I welcome and appreciate the contribution of the Government of Fiji to UNDOF. In view of the challenging operational environment under which UNDOF is operating, the contribution of Fiji will greatly assist UNDOF as the Force continues to use its best efforts to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic.”
General Gaye said that Fiji’s contribution would support the continued efforts of UNDOF to maintain a credible presence on the Golan and to continue implementing its mandate. General Gaye said, “The support of the Government of Fiji is vital in facilitating United Nations’ efforts to maintain stability on the Golan and international peace and security, as parallel efforts continue to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria and end the suffering of the Syrian people.”
General Gaye affirmed that the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations will continue to support the efforts of UNDOF to adopt and update measures to minimise risk to UNDOF personnel. “The safety and security of UN personnel is of high priority for the United Nations,” he said.
The Fijian Government has expressed its confidence to the United Nations that Fiji’s hard-earned experience of peacekeeping in the Middle East region will serve UNDOF well, and that it is determined to continue its contribution to international security through UN peacekeeping service. For thirty-five years, Fijian soldiers have served as UN peacekeepers in the Middle East, notably with UNIFIL in Lebanon, with UNAMI in Iraq, and with the Multinational Force in Sinai.
Fiji’s deployment to UNDOF will initially consist of an infantry company of 140 personnel of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) to replace a Croatian infantry contingent that was until recently embedded within the Austrian infantry contingent. In addition, a RFMF transport platoon of 31 personnel will be deployed to replace the recently withdrawn Japanese transport platoon. The Fijian troops will deploy to UNDOF at the end of June, on a timetable agreed with the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
UNDOF is based in the Syrian Golan Heights where it administers the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces. The recent withdrawal of some of the existing UNDOF contingents has given rise to the United Nations request for other UN Member States to step in to ensure that the UN can continue to implement its mandate in the interests of regional peace and security.