CEO of Veterans Aid Dr Hugh Milroy is pictured with Fijian High Commissioner to the UK Mr N Solo Mara (left).
The two met to discuss their mutual concern about the plight of Fijian soldiers and their families who are facing deportation or immigration problems after completing British military service.
The meeting came just hours after the death of another Fijian soldier in Afghanistan was announced by the MOD.
Since the case of Isimeli Baleiwai, a Fijian veteran facing deportation on the grounds of having an internal military offence on his record, Veterans Aid has been inundated with pleas for help from Foreign and Commonwealth veterans and serving soldiers. A significant majority are Fijian.
“I represent a charity dealing with veterans in crisis,” said Dr Milroy. “I’m not in the blame game, but behind the statistics there is real human suffering; families are being torn apart, children denied school meals, parents cut off from the right to work, access benefits or medical care. This is a humanitarian crisis in microcosm; an unintended consequence of laws being applied bluntly and without proportionality.â€¨â€¨”Until there is a proper review of how the apparently ad hoc application of UK Border Agency rules are being applied to this single group of people (Foreign and Commonwealth service personnel), charities like Veterans Aid will continue to have to pay to feed, clothe and house them while they fight for justice.”
Mr Mara in welcoming the opportunity to meet with Dr Milroy, also expressed his concern over the plight of Commonwealth nationals, many of whom are Fijians facing complicated and confusing immigration challenges, including deportation after serving in the British Armed Forces for 5-10 years. He said, “I hope, with the support of Veterans Aid, to engage with relevant Government agencies in the UK to find an amicable solution to this regrettable situation.”