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Fiji’s contribution to 40 years of United Nations peacekeeping operations has earned the small Pacific island nation international respect on the global stage, said Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
“The respect that Fiji enjoys on the global stage has given us a voice and the platform which we have used to take the lead on some of the great issues confronting humanity; combatting climate change, protecting our oceans and preserving our planet.”
Bainimarama said the peacekeeping legacy was built with sacrifice and many Fijian soldiers paid a high a prize for the sake of spreading peace around the world.
“Thanks to the dedication of our peacekeepers, Fiji is looked to with respect and admiration by the international community. Through our peacekeepers, nations far and wide can see that Fijians are willing and able to look far beyond our own borders.
“They see that Fijians are concerned for not only the welfare of ourselves but we are fighting for the welfare of the world, said Bainimarama on the weekend to honour and celebrate Fiji’s 40 years of service to the UN Peacekeeping operations.
In the 40 years – 60 Fijian peacekeepers died while on UN peacekeeping duties. Fijian soldiers served in some of most dangerous and volatile regions on earth – serving in the Middle East from the Sinai Peninsula to Kuwait, Iraq, and Syria, in Africa – from Darfur to South Sudan, Liberia and Namibia, as far as Eastern Europe in Bosnia and Kosovo and in the Asia Pacific region like Cambodia, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands.
“No matter how different the region they serve, throughout the 40 years of service one thing has remained constant, our Fijian peacekeepers have sacrificed, they have persevered and they have brought immeasurable honour, glory and pride to our great nation, said the Fijian PM.
At the church service in Suva to mark the 40 years of UN peacekeeping service, members of the Australian Defence Force visiting the country joined their Fijian counterparts.
The service at the Centenary Methodist Church paid tribute to all Fijian personnel killed and wounded while serving as peacekeepers in theatres around the world.
Royal Australian Navy Captain Jim Hutton attended the service and said Fiji’s commitment to preserving peace abroad since 1978 showed a strong willingness to help other nations.
“Hundreds of Fijian service men and women have served in theatres far from home, from Kosovo and Sinai to Iraq, Liberia and Sudan, to help improve the lives of the local people” Captain Hutton said.
“Members of the Australian Defence Force have served in some of the same peacekeeping operations, such as East Timor and Iraq, representing the United Nations alongside their Fijian colleagues in dangerous environments.”
“While we remember the sacrifice of those Fijians killed or wounded during peacekeeping missions over the past 40 years, the nation can be proud of its long history of helping other nations achieve security.”
Also in attendance, Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, said Australia saluted the efforts, history and bravery of the Fijian men and women who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice their safety for others’.
“I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women of the RFMF who have and continue to put themselves in harm’s way on these missions. Yours is a record of bravery, sacrifice and professionalism which we will honour next week,” he said.
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