UN mission‘s new Fijian police chief to boost women officer numbers

The newly appointed Fijian police chief at the UN Mission in South Sudan aims to boost the number of women in the force.

Unaisi Bolatolu-Vuniwaqa, the first female Police Commissioner to serve with the mission, is in charge of a force of 1500 officers from 42 countries.

Unaisi Bolatolu-Vuniwaqa, Police Commissioner at the UN Mission in South Sudan Photo: Supplied

The force‘s role is to ensure the safety of people who have fled from ongoing violence to UN protection sites.

A UN statement said Ms Bolatolu-Vuniwaqa aimed to get contributing countries to commit to lifting the proportion of serving policewomen from its current level of 20 per cent.

She said women police officers have an important role to play.

“We are engaging with mostly the vulnerable people that are protected within the Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites and, of course, a lot of them are women and children,” Ms Bolatolu-Vuniwaqa said.

“Therefore, the role of women police in UNPOL is very, very important so that we are able to bridge the gap with the community that we are serving within the PoC site.”

Fijian UN Peacekeepers have served all over the world. Here, one of fifty Fijian troops posted on the Mediterranean coast looks through binoculars at an Israeli post. Photo: AFP/Ramzi Haidar

Ms Bolatolu-Vuniwaqa commanded the Fijian police contingent in South Sudan before becoming deputy police commissioner and lately gaining the top job.

Fiji‘s Minister for Defence and National Security, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, told Fiji‘s parliament earlier this month she was seconded to the UN from the Fijian Police Force.

According to the news website Fiji Village, Ratu Inoke said it was the highest post achieved by any officer of the Fiji Police Force which was encouraging to all women in the disciplined forces and those considering joining.

An opposition MP, Semesa Karavaki, said it was a big achievement for women in Fiji but unfortunately it took the United Nations to recognise this.

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