Fiji ‘Has Made Its Mark’
Fiji has made its mark and left a lasting and enduring legacy in terms of peacekeeping duties under the United Nations umbrella and given the ultimate sacrifice soldiers have made in the service of global peace.
This was the comment by Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere while officiating at the Fiji-United Nations anniversary celebrations at Subrail Park in Labasa yesterday. This week marks 40 years of Fiji’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations as a troop provider.
The first contingent of 500 Fijian soldiers departed for Lebanon in 1978 to help confirm Israel’s withdrawal and to aid the restoration of peace and Lebanese government rule.
Fifty-six Fijian peacekeepers have died in active UN service over the past four decades.
Ratu Wiliame said Fijian soldiers contributed a lot to building our reputation and recognition as peacekeepers.
“Not only did it spread Fiji’s footprint around the globe, it contributed to the very essence of our participation in various United Nations and international programmes,” he said.
“It may well be attributed to the ultimate sacrifice that our men and women in uniform have made in the service. Today is a day of celebration, a day of remembrance and reflection of the selfless sacrifice our troops made for the preservation of global peace.
“The journey for us began 40 years ago just gaining independence and looking for a way to contribute to nation building and effectively participate in global affairs.
“We pay tribute to our leaders at the time for their vision to involve Fiji for the greater good in the pursuance of global peace, and peacekeeping was the answer to our leaders’ intentions. “Our leaders may have passed on, but their vision has become a reality and its impact continues to be a resonating factor until today,” he said.
A moment of silence was observed at Subrail Park after a march through Labasa town yesterday morning. This was to commemorate the lives lost in the line of duty.