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New York
Friday, June 24, 2016


A signing ceremony held at the United Nations in New York on 23 June, formalized the Government of Fiji’s provision of personnel and services to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). In 2014, Fiji deployed an RFMF infantry company to UNIFIL to serve as UNIFIL’s Multi-Task Protection Force Unit (MTPFU).

The United Nations was represented at the ceremony by Under-Secretary-General Dr Atul Khare, UN Department of Field Support. Fiji was represented by Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Peter Thomson, and Military & Police Adviser, Colonel Manoa Gadai of the RFMF.

During the UNIFIL MOU signing ceremony, Dr Khare expressed the sincere gratitude of the United Nations for the dedication and sacrifice displayed by Fiji’s UN Peacekeepers, both those currently serving as well, as the many from Fiji who have served in UN peacekeeping operations over the last four decades. Dr Khare thanked the Government of Fiji for its steadfast provision of personnel and equipment towards UN peacekeeping in the cause of world peace. He said the provision of the RFMF’s Multi-Task Protection Force Unit for UNIFIL was an important contribution to the UN mandate in Lebanon.

Ambassador Thomson said the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for Fiji’s participation in UNIFIL marked a further milestone in Fiji’s proud history in UN peacekeeping. He too paid tribute to the service of Fiji’s past and present servicemen and servicewomen who have served in the blue helmets and blue berets of UN peacekeeping.

UNIFIL was put in place by the UN Security Council in 1978, with a mandate to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, restore peace and security, and assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area. In addition to this mandate, in 2006 UNIFIL was directed by the Security Council to take on other specific peacekeeping tasks including the monitoring of the cessation of hostilities, securing borders to prevent the entry of arms, ensuring its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, protecting UN personnel and facilities, and without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, protecting civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

The RFMF initially deployed to UNIFIL in 1978 with a battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, the former President of Fiji. From 1997 to 1999, Major General Jioji Konrote, the current President of Fiji, served as Force Commander of UNIFIL. RFMF withdrew from UNIFIL in 2002 under the drawdown of UNIFIL troops. In 2014, a 146-strong RFMF infantry company was transferred from UNDOF, in nearby Golan, to UNIFIL. The signing of yesterday’s MOU formalizes the substantive return of the RFMF to UNIFIL.


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