The United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency, António Guterres honored all Fijian peacekeepers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of global peace, in a solemn wreath laying ceremony held today at the National War Memorial in Suva.

The UN Secretary-General laid a wreath at the Fiji National War Memorial to honor all Fijian Peacekeepers for their sacrifices and commitment made in UN Peacekeeping.  It was also in remembrance of more than 60 Fijian Peacekeepers who have died in the line of duty since the first deployment of Fijian peacekeepers to the United Nations Interim Forces in South Lebanon (UNIFIL) since 1978.

The Fijian Government has continuously reaffirmed to the United Nations, Fiji’s commitment to UN Peacekeeping as its contribution to global peace. Fiji is also working closely with its bilateral partners to build capacity and capabilities for peacekeeping. Fiji’s strong leadership in its quest for global peace continues to be recognized and peacekeeping has continued to play a vital role in highlighting Fiji in the UN system.

More than 15,000 Fijians have served in conflict areas in; Africa, Asia, Balkans and the Middle East in the last 40 years. The speaker of Parliament and former President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was the first commander of the Fijian Battalion in UNIFIL. The current President, His Excellency Jioji Konusi Konrote, was a former Head of Mission and Force Commander of UNIFIL.

Today, more than 400 Fijian peacekeepers are serving in South Sudan, Darfur, Iraq, Golan Heights, South Lebanon and the Sinai.

Fiji also supports the UN Secretary General’s Peace Reforms and Action for Peace to enhance the global peacekeeping goals. Fiji continues to excel in its commitment to increase the number of women peacekeepers in its deployments to support and achieve the UNSG’s Gender Parity targets.

In terms of Fiji’s commitment to UN Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028, Fiji has already exceeded the expected 30 percent target by having 51 percent of women officers within the Fiji Police Force.

This aspiration is also reflected in promoting women’s leadership in peacekeeping, which has seen the appointment of Ms Unaisi Vuniwaqa as the first female Fijian Police Commissioner to serve with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The wreath laying ceremony was also attended by the Permanent Secretary of Fiji’s Ministry of Defence, Manasa Lesuma, senior Government officials, members of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Fiji Police Force and Ex -servicemen.