Despite Violence, Fiji Peacekeepers Remain In South Sudan

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RFMR confirm there are no plans to evacuate soldiers, police

By Losalini Rasoqosoqo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Jan. 5, 2014) – All Fijians serving with the United Nations amidst growing violence in South Sudan are reported safe.

Yesterday, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) confirmed that all their security forces members were continuing with their mission.

And there are no current plans to evacuate Fijian soldiers and police officers there despite violence and civil unrest in the world’s newest nation.

"Work is normal for our members of the security forces and they are continuing with their mission," Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga said.

However, he said, all civilian staff of the United Nations had been evacuated to Uganda. The Fijian contingents are part of a major United Nations effort to help the development of an independent South Sudan after decades of civil war and conflict in the region.

There are 15 Fijians serving there, of which six are from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, eight from the Fiji Police Force, and an officer from the Fiji Corrections Service.

Commissioner of Corrections Lieutenant-Colonel Ifereimi Vasu, earlier revealed that arrangements had been made for Chief Corrections Officer Ana Wilikibau to return home soon.

CCO Wilikibau is understood to be based where fighting has been the fiercest.

United Nations peacekeepers from Senegal and Jordan have recently been killed in violence in neighbouring Sudan’s South Darfur region, where peacekeeping efforts have taken a heavy toll on United Nations forces.

It has been reported that thousands of South Sudanese have fled their homes in recent days as fighting between forces loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir have fought against a rebellion led by his former vice president, Riek Machar, plunging the young nation into chaos and increasing fears of ethnic conflict..

The fighting began last month when some units of the national military staged an anti-government mutiny, which Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of orchestrating.

The violence soon spread across the country, pitting members of South Sudan’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer, against each other.

Since then an estimated 180,000 people have fled their homes, and much of the country has been left in ruins.

Many of these internally displaced persons have sought shelter in more than a dozen bases belonging to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

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