Fiji Peacekeepers In Volatile Sinai Region Safe In Hotel

Frequent terrorist attacks cause UN to reconsider deployments

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 2, 2016) – The 338 Fijian peacekeepers serving in the Sinai region are safe.

Defence Minister Timoci Natuva confirmed this last night as concerns mount on their safety amid escalating militant attacks, severe security threats and increased tension among anti-government protesters.

At present, Fijian peacekeepers are taking shelter at a hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of Sinai, away from Northern Sinai which has been subjected to frequent terrorist attacks.

Mr Natuva confirmed that talks had already begun with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) to have the present number of army personnel reduced to 92.

In his ministerial statement earlier yesterday, he told Parliament that the impact of the Egyptian Government's transition from the Muslim brotherhood-backed government to the current elected President and former Egyptian Army Chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led to the escalation in militant attacks against the Egyptian Armed Forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

"The recent security threats, assessment and indirect fire from militants impacting El Gorah's MFO headquarters has prompted the MFO to rush the reconfiguration implementation that includes the relocation and rebalancing of the troops on 21 May, 2016," Mr Natuva said.

He said given the planned reduction of the RFMF MFO troops strength from 338 to 92 personnel, this had prompted the RFMF to re-evaluate the overseas deployment plans and the insertion of returning MFO personnel into various units locally as well and consideration of some to other overseas deployments.

"This apparent reduction of Fiji troops is still at a negotiation stage with Government pursuing dialogue with the involved states of Egypt, Israel, the US and MFO headquarters in Rome."

He said the 29 soldiers bound for the Sinai mission had been put on hold until further notice.

Fiji Times Online.
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