PM For­mally Closes Le­banon Mis­sion, Vis­its Golan Troops

Golan Heights Fi­jian troop size to be cut by 50 per cent.

Fiji Sun - - Nation - NEMANI DELAIBATIKI Edited by Naisa Koroi Feed­back: com.fj ra­[email protected]­jisun.

Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama last night for­mally closed the Fi­jian Bat­tal­ion peace­keep­ing mis­sion in South­ern Le­banon. He trav­elled from Ka­tow­ice in Poland, where he was at­tend­ing COP24 to meet the Force Com­man­der of the United Na­tions In­terim Force in Le­banon (UNIFIL). He thanked Ma­jorGen­eral Ste­fano Del Col of Italy, who has been in com­mand for only four months.

He re­placed Ma­jorGen­eral Michael Beary of Ire­land in Au­gust this year. Mr Bain­i­marama will then travel to the Golan Heights be­tween Syria and Israel to thank the Force Com­man­der of the United Na­tions Dis­en­gage­ment Ob­serve Force (UNDOF), where Fi­jian troops will be re­duced by 50 per cent. The re­duc­tion is due to the re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of peace­keep­ing troops and greater amount of peace in the UNDOF’s op­er­a­tional area. Mr Bain­i­marama ac­com­pa­nied by is Repub­lic of Fiji Mil­i­tary Forces Com­man­der Rear Ad­mi­ral Vil­iame Naupoto and Am­bas­sador Satyen­dra Prasad, Fiji’s Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions.

The Le­banon-based Fi­jian troops will re­turn to Fiji for good on De­cem­ber 21 after 14 months de­ploy­ment.

Fi­jian troops first started their peace­keep­ing mis­sion there in 1978.

The UN man­date ended shortly after the Is­raeli De­fence Force (IDF), launched a re­tal­ia­tory at­tack, dubbed Op­er­a­tion Grapes of Wrath, in UNIFIL’s area of op­er­a­tion in 1996. It was in re­sponse to ar­tillery rounds fired by armed el­e­ments to­wards Israel from Qana. When it was over more than 500 plus peo­ple were dead and five Fi­jian peace­keep­ers were among the in­jured. Mirac­u­lously, no was killed.

The UN man­date was re­newed in 2015 and Fi­jian peace­keep­ers re­turned to South­ern Le­banon.

More than 34 Fi­jians died while serv­ing with UNIFIL.

It is un­der­stood that troops will be de­ployed to take up other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Fi­jian

Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama (fourth from left) with the Com­man­der of the Repub­lic of the Fiji Mil­i­tary Forces (RFMF) Rear Ad­mi­ral Vil­iame Naupoto (third from left) and Am­bas­sador Satyen­dra Prasad and the United Na­tions Fi­jian peace­keep­ers dur­ing his visit to Le­banon.

Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama with Ma­jor-Gen­eral Ste­fano Del Col of Italy in Le­banon.

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