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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 23, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Fiji has called for improved cooperation and consultation between the United Nations Security Council, the Secretariat and countries contributing troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Fiji's United Nations representative Amraiya Naidu said the system of reimbursing costs should be reviewed to ensure that small countries such as Fiji are not disadvantaged by having to undergo lengthy waits for reimbursement of money spent.

And he said those responsible for killing United Nations peacekeepers should be brought to justice.

"Fiji has frequently noted its heavy human losses to peacekeeping, now numbering 37," said Mr. Naidu.

He said the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon alone had lost at least 250 lives in its 23 years of operation.

"This is an unacceptable casualty figure in peacekeeping terms. In whatever mission, it remains important that warring parties are held accountable for such casualties," he said.

Mr. Naidu said Fiji is confidant that the loss of lives in all peacekeeping missions can be minimized and those responsible properly brought to justice.

Mr. Naidu said this will give credibility to the international mechanisms that are put in place for these specific objectives, to strengthen peacekeeping operations and deter would-be-violators.

"With regards to budget, Fiji has pondered seriously over the reimbursement procedures which weigh heavily against Fiji and cause severe budgetary constraints," he said.

He said acquisition of appropriate armory to adequately equip its peacekeeping troops for missions is a strain for Fiji.

"A more viable option is for the UN to procure armory through tendering and bulk purchasing schemes at a reasonable cost," he said.

This would considerably ease the responsibilities of troop contributing countries while also standardizing the required equipment levels at each mission, he added.

Fiji has been a regular contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world, including having a battalion permanently attached to UNIFIL. It also has troops currently serving with the United Nations in East Timor and police serving in the Balkans.

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