FIJI MILITARY WHO SERVED IN CHRISTMAS ISLAND CAMPAIGN TO RECEIVE

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PENSIONS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 28, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Fiji soldiers and naval officers who served in the 1957-1959 Christmas Island Emergency Operation have finally been given financial assistance by the Fiji Government.

Yesterday, the Fiji Cabinet, under the caretaker leadership of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, made the announcement at its last sitting before next month's national election.

Currently, these military personnel do not receive any form of assistance. Only soldiers who served in the Solomon Islands World War II campaign and the Malaysian War receive monthly pensions from the Fiji After Care Servicemen Fund.

A total of 262 navy and army personnel enlisted in the Christmas Island Campaign - called Operation Grapple - between 1957 and 1959. Most of these men have passed away.

The Cabinet decision now authorizes the Ministry of Finance to include those who served in Operation Grapple to receive financial assistance under the Pensions Act.

The draft amendment bill will be submitted to the new Parliament. Once enacted, assistance to the servicemen will be authorized to begin.

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