Fiji holds talks to secure ‘safe haven’

FIJI held talks with the Qatari Government earlier this week to include the Middle East country as a safe haven for Fijian soldiers on peacekeeping missions if tension in the region escalated.

This was confirmed to Parliament by Defence Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola after a question from SODELPA parliamentarian Viliame Gavoka on the exit strategies in place by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) for Fijian peacekeepers on peacekeeping missions.

“We are working with Qatar. You (Mr Gavoka) referred to the 45 soldiers in 2014, it was this minister, the (Qatari) Minister for Defence, he was minister for foreign affairs at the time that we sort assistance from and that he was willing to help in the negotiation of our soldiers, he’s now the Defence Minister of Qatar,” Ratu Inoke said.

He told Parliament that there were 811 active Fijian peacekeepers who were serving across six different missions over the

globe. Ratu Inoke said there were earmarked safe havens in other countries which Fiji had existing defence agreements with such as the United States of America and Israel.

He said exit strategies were mission specific and there was continuous surveillance should an extraction from a mission be considered.

Ratu Inoke said the strategies were shaped by the troops themselves. He also assured that the safety of the troops was paramount.

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