Fijian Ambassadors Complete Visit to Golan
Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Peter Thomson, and Ambassador-at-Large Major General Ioane Naivalurua completed a two-day visit to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Golan today. The visit included meetings with UNDOF officials and the Fiji contingent serving with UNDOF.
UNDOF has existed since 31 May 1974 when Israel and Syria signed a Disengagement Agreement following the ceasefire between Syria and Israel after the 1973 war. UNDOF was established by the UN Security Council, providing for an Area of Separation and two equal zones of limited forces and armaments on both sides of the ceasefire line.
At a strength of 514 military personnel of the First Battalion of RFMF, the Fiji contingent is now the largest serving in UNDOF. It was deployed from Fiji in June-July 2013. Other contingents serving in the 1257-strength force of UNDOF are from the Philippines, India, Nepal and Ireland. Fiji replaced the Austrian, Croatian and Japanese contingents who withdrew from UNDOF in 2013.
The Fijian Ambassadors were welcomed and farewelled by Fiji's UNDOF contingent under the command of Lt Col Sitiveni Qiliho. They met with the officers and personnel to hear of their experience and register any points of concern. These were noted for further action in Suva and New York. The Ambassadors were pleased to observe that the contingent's esprit de corps and morale were high, that the personnel were in good health, and that all concerned were proud of the solid contribution provided by Fiji to UNDOF.
Lt Col Qiliho and UNDOF officers escorted the Fijian Ambassadors to observation posts along the Alpha line of the Area of Separation to overview the northern zone of the area of responsibility covered by Fiji. They were able to inspect facilities in the observation posts and assess the operating conditions of the Fiji contingent.
At UNDOF's Camp Ziouani, the Ambassadors received a mission operational brief, including details of the current security situation in Golan. The brief was delivered by Major Maika Baleinaloto in his capacity as UNDOF's Senior Staff Officer Operations. The UNDOF Force Commander, Lieutenant General Iqbal Singha, attended the briefing and held separate talks with the Ambassadors in which he expressed his satisfaction with the high calibre of the Fiji contingent's contribution to UNDOF.