31 May 2016

Fiji halts peacekeeping missions to Sinai as tensions mount

8:42 am on 31 May 2016
Egyptian armoured vehicles in the Sinai Peninsula .

Egyptian armoured vehicles in the Sinai Peninsula (file).. Photo: AFP

Fiji has put on hold all its peacekeeping missions to the Sinai Peninsula, between Egypt and Israel, as tensions continue to mount in the Middle East.

The military's director for peace support operations, Commander Humphrey Tawake, said 29 soldiers scheduled to depart for the region will no longer go, and all future missions have been halted.

Five of Fiji's seven remote outposts in North Sinai have been closed.

Mr Tawake said the United States and Colombia were also planning to reduce troop numbers.

The United Nations first deployed peacekeepers to the peninsula in the 1950s after a war between Israel and Egypt.

But conflict has escalated in recent years, as Egypt's military wages a campaign against militants affiliated with the Islamic State group, which has at times ensnarled peacekeepers.

Last year, three Fijian soldier was injured in separate attacks, but the then-military commander, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho, said he had no intention of withdrawing troops.

Fiji is a major supplier of peacekeepers to the United Nations, which generates revenue for the country.

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