SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Dec. 22) - Our boys in Iraq are not there for a picnic. For the first time, as far as can be ascertained, two of them are home after suffering gunshot wounds.

The vehicle they were traveling in was apparently ambushed by hostile elements and came under automatic fire which injured the two Fijians one of whom is now recovering in the Suva Private Hospital, courtesy of his employer.

The incident proves what many have suspected all along - that the former Fijian soldiers recruited for duty in Iraq are very much in harm’s way despite the many assurances to the contrary.

And the danger will, if anything, escalate as security conditions in that troubled land continue to deteriorate despite the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Of course that need not necessarily stop former Royal Fiji Military Forces personnel from accepting employment there, mainly with Global Risks Security Ltd, a British-based private company which employs an agent in Fiji to recruit them.

But they - and perhaps more importantly their families - deserve to know what risks they are likely to face during the term of their employment in Iraq or anywhere else.

Their employer, understandably perhaps, is far from enthusiastic about having these men’s stories published, even though frank revelation would put a stop to any and all speculation.

And the fact remains that such publication would be unlikely to deter former soldiers from seeking employment in Iraq and in other peacekeeping missions.

The contracts are just too attractive.

And in any case, these men are trained soldiers. They know Iraq is not a peaceful place and that there are risks of injury or worse. 

They know they will be well cared for if they are injured and that their families will not be left destitute if the worst happens.

But let’s be under no illusions. This is a dangerous mission that carries a degree of risk that is impossible to calculate in a guerrilla conflict with no designated theatres of conflict.

Any foreign national is a target in any place at any time - as others have found out to their great cost.

There is no reason to believe that the Fijians will be treated any differently.

December 22, 2003




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