24 May 2002

Fiji turns down peacekeeping offers in Africa amid concern about AIDS

5:15 am on 24 May 2002

Fiji's military has turned down offers of peacekeeping duities in the African countries of the Congo and Burundi amid concern about AIDS.

Radio Fiji says the military issued the clarification after an earlier report which said the offer was being considered for a battalion due to end its 24-year old peacekeeping role in Lebanon.

The military spokesman, Captain Ned Taito, is quoted as saying the army could not risk its soldiers contracting the HIV virus which is prevalent in Africa.

The military has also refused an offer to station troops in Afghanistan, describing it as a war zone and not a peacekeeping area.

The UN had asked for Fiji military personnel to provide security for its officials engaged in humanitarian work.