16 Nov 2004

Fiji farewells second batch of troops going to Iraq

7:22 am on 16 November 2004

Fiji has given a formal farewell to 134 soldiers who will leave tomorrow for United Nations duties in Iraq.

The mayor of Suva, Ratu Peni Volavola, took the salute as the troops, who include six women, marched through the capital.

Earlier, at a parade at Albert Park, the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, told the troops Fiji soldiers are renowned internationally for their professionalism, zealous commitment and devotion to duty.

Mr Qarase said Fiji may be small but it has shown that it is willing to shoulder its responsibility to help bring peace and stability to regions beset with conflict and violence.

Fiji troops will be providing a guard force for the United Nations which is re-establishing its mission in Iraq after being forced to pull out following a devastating bombing attack last year.

24 soldiers left last week to act as personal protection officers for senior UN staff in Iraq.

The 134 who leave tomorrow will guard the UN offices.

The Fiji troops are fully aware of the danger of death in Iraq but several have been quoted as saying they are ready to do their duty.