By MAIKA BOLATIKI
Fiji’s Territorial Force will now be deployed to Iraq for United Nations duties.
This was confirmed to the Fiji Sun by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Land Force Commander, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga.
“Only those from the regular force are deployed to Iraq to join the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq,” Colonel Tikoitoga said.
However, he said, this would change as some from the Territorial Force would be deployed for the Iraq Mission in the near future.
On the work of the 198 soldiers currently in Iraq, he said they were providing security for UN officials in Baghdad and were also providing security at an airport.
“I must admit that they continue to hold Fiji’s name high even though they are operating in a volatile area.”
He assured families that all soldiers in Iraq are safe. The next deployment to Iraq will be in November.
Meanwhile the Land Force Commander has clarified a report that was published in the Fiji Sun yesterday.
He said only the two deployments for the Golan Heights would leave the country soon.
The first 160 of the 380 to be deployed to the Golan Heights will leave on July 26 and the rest will follow at a later date.
For Iraq, Colonel Tikoitoga said the next rotation would be in November.
Night patrols suspended
Night patrols by the United Nations peacekeepers monitoring the cease-fire in the Golan Heights have been suspended.
This has been confirmed by a release from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), stating the decision has been reached due to security risks.
Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Iqbal Singh Singha, told reporters in New York that they faced many challenges in the Golan Heights.
Major General Singha said, “UNDOF troops have come under fire, been abducted, hijacked, had weapons snatched and offices vandalised in the region. In addition, troop- contributing countries, such as Austria, have pulled out their forces.
“The Mission has now taken a series of mitigating efforts, which include reducing its operational footprint and temporarily halting night patrols. We have continued to evolve and the mission continues to carry out its mandate in a modified manner.”
Major General Singha added, the UN Headquarters in New York was doing everything possible to keep the Mission operational and its peacekeepers safe.
This decision also applies to the Fijian contingent at Camp Faouar.
The Land Force Commander said this suspension came into effect before the Fiji contingent to the Golan Heights left the country.
He said the contingent was briefed on this matter.