January 12, 2006:
The Fiji army wants a few more women. Fiji troops are very popular with UN aid workers, mainly because the Fijians are very professional and reliable, particularly when providing security. That’s what they are doing in Iraq, where 150 serve. Fijian troops have been providing security at UN offices in Baghdad, where part of that duty was screening female Iraqi visitors. This requires female troops, of which about twenty serve in the Fijian armed forces. But now the UN wants the Fijian troops to guard UN offices in two more cities. Since Fijian troops serve six months at a time, that will require more female troops than the army has available. So the army called for more female recruits. Thirty were needed, but 300 volunteers came forward. Those selected will go through the usual basic training, and be ready for deployment to Iraq. The Fiji armed forces have 3,500 troops, although another 1,500 Fijians serve in the British armed forces. The UN pays well for the Fijians, more than they make when they are not on peacekeeping duty. And so well regarded are the Fijians, that private security firms seek to hire, at much higher rates of pay, Fijians serving in Iraq. About a dozen soldiers in Iraq have resigned and joined the private security firms.