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Fiji Time: 1:48 PM on Tuesday 2 September

/ Front page / Editorial Comment

Fijian hostage crisis

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Today is Day Five of the hostage crisis involving our soldiers in the Golan Heights.

And yesterday, army commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga said there were now 45 soldiers detained by the militant group Al-Nusra which has links to Al-Qaida.

He confirmed the figure yesterday in a press statement.

He said the 45 soldiers have access to basic human needs — food, water and medical supplies and are all reportedly in good health.

Yesterday's reassurance came in the wake of continuous negotiations between the authorities, the United Nations and the rebel group.

Other than that, he said the situation surrounding the detained peacekeepers remained unchanged.

He said they were co-ordinating closely with the UN team for their safe release.

But in keeping with the demands on the ground, the RFMF, as of Sunday, had started the selection process to prepare soldiers to replace those detained.

And that's just the nature of the job.

Understandably as soldiers, our men knew the dangers on the ground. Their job isn't for the faint-hearted.

Death is an intricate part of the package so to speak and the reality is their lives are always at risk.

And given the deteriorating scenarios in Syria, UN peacekeepers are slowly being caught in the crossfire.

Yesterday, international news headlines suggested the Al-Nusra group had laid down conditions for the release of our soldiers. And this included the transfer of humanitarian aid. It is a glimmer of hope. And given the circumstances, hope is what we all crave for now.

It is encouraging to see the measures taken by the RFMF to keep family members informed.

Regular press briefings including one planned for this morning are all in line with the aim to keep everyone updated.

Brig-Gen Tikoitoga also made no bones about the fact that the RFMF is committed to the UNDOF mission.

Clearly there has been massive interest in developments in the Golan Heights following the detainment of our soldiers.

A picture of the soldiers has gone viral on the internet and hits online are indicative of the level of interest hovering on their safety.

Today we must continue to hope for an early settlement for the sake of our soldiers and their family members.

They will expect that of us. Today we also keep family members in our thoughts and hope they are strong in this moment of crisis.

Again, we should look upon the army, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga and the UN to continue to push for an early resolution.

And lest we forget, let us also keep members of our peacekeeping contingent who are still working on the ground in our thoughts.

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