Fiji military honours peacekeepers

Saimoni Tuiova (left) with Jolame Salailagi and Paula Vueti assemble a machine gun on display during the Republic of Fiji Military Force celebrating the International Day for United Nations Peacekeepers at Black Rock in Nadi yesterday. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

THE protection of civilians has been at the heart of peacekeeping, says Republic of Fiji Military Forces commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto.

While marking International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers at the Blackrock military training camp in Nadi yesterday, Mr Naupoto honoured civilian and uniformed personnel for their contribution towards peacekeeping.

He said more than 3800 peacekeepers had lost their lives while serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 98 last year.

“Over the past 20 years, protection of civilians has increasingly been at the heart of UN peacekeeping,” he said.

“Today, more than 90 per cent of our peacekeepers serving in eight peacekeeping operations in Abyei and Darfur, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali and South Sudan have protection of civilians’ mandates.

“These peacekeepers put themselves in harm’s way to protect civilians from violence every day.

“The first UN peacekeeping mission was established on 29 May 1948, when the Security Council authorised the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours.”

He said since then, more than one million men and women have served in 72 UN peacekeeping operations, directly impacting the lives of millions of people.

“From Cambodia to El Salvador, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Timor Leste, and elsewhere, UN peacekeeping has helped countries move from war to peace.

“Today, in 14 peacekeeping operations on four continents, it deploys more than 88,000 military and police personnel from 124 member states, nearly 13,000 civilian personnel and 1300 UN volunteers.”

Meanwhile, at the Returned Servicemen’s League building in Lautoka yesterday, former and retired peacekeepers gathered to celebrate the day.

The event, a first of its kind, was organised by the Pan Pacific South East Women’s Association (PPSEAWA) Lautoka as a way of appreciating the people who demonstrated courage, dedication, and professionalism and honour those who lost their lives fighting for Peace.

More than 30 retired peacekeepers along with widows of servicemen who have died were part of the celebration.

More Stories