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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, August 6) – Five Fiji nationals, who were evacuated from Lebanon to Cyprus, are relieved to have arrived home safely.

United Nations Communications Officer Rupeni Biudole said he and his wife Vulawale had contemplated death when war broke out in Lebanon.

[PIR editor’s note: The Israel-Lebanon conflict is a series of armed conflicts between Hezzbolah’s armed wing and the Israel Defense Forces. Border raids and retaliations are ongoing and have affected many groups of people living in the region.]

Speaking from his Nadera home yesterday, he said in the lead up to their evacuation from Tyre, he had asked his wife if she was prepared for death.

"It had crossed my mind that I may never see my children and grandchildren again, and I once asked my wife, if she was ready for the same. We cried. But we were prepared for the worst.

"We have returned from the valley of the shadow of death and we're just relishing in God's blessings to reunite us with our family. It wasn't easy, but then nothing is hard to God.

"Thank you Fiji for your prayers. That and our faith have brought us home safely. Our spiritual life sustained us and strengthened us," he said.

They arrived with Drawe and Joana Vatuwaliwali, who asked not to be disturbed and Kalo Raiyawa, who could not be reached.

Mrs Raiyawa's husband Saula is the only Fijian national at the UN headquarters in Naqoura.

Mr Buidole said tears flowed freely when they bid Mr Raiyawa farewell.

"I told him- I'm taking the lead to wait for you on the other side," he said.

Mr Raiyawa wrote in an email last night that he was relieved his wife had arrived home safely.

"That was my biggest concern. I didn't feel comfortable when my wife was stranded in Cyprus.

"I am in a bunker now, and much relieved that she and other families have arrived safely in Fiji. We're taking turns going up for a breath of fresh air.

God willing, the situation will get better in the months ahead.

[PIR editor’s note: See earlier PIR story for more details.]

August 7, 2006

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