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Fijians left in the lurch, UK armed forces freezes recruitment

Fijians currently in the UK who applied to join the British Army need to return home or fork out more than two thousand dollars to extend their visitor visas.

This is the dilemma reportedly faced by more than one hundred Fijians after Britain’s Ministry of Defence announced a freeze on any further recruitment this year.

British High Commissioner to Fiji Melanie Hopkins says there were no guarantees of recruitment.

“Well I don’t think we would say it’s left in the lurch, I mean at every stage it has been made clear about the operational need of the army and that once those numbers are complete, essentially that will be it until further vacancies and that was made clear on the website for people as they apply, also when they receive their invitation letter to go across to the UK.”

Last year, the British Government announced 200 vacancies in their armed forces that were open up to all Commonwealth countries.

A number of Fijians at their own expense traveled to the UK to begin their phase one training which was scheduled for next month.

Suli Tuiteci Lotawa a UK resident and sponsor of a relative who was earmarked for the training says a number of the applicants are unaware of the deferment.

Lotawa who has sponsored a family member says this is the first time a recruitment freeze of this nature has occurred with no prior consultation.

“Cause the extensions alone are, you’re talking about a bit over a thousand pounds for a six month extension and I understand that a lot of these boys and girls, their parents back home will, they’ll be forking out money for that and that’s around two thousand six hundred Fiji dollars.”

Lotawa says the Community Support Network, an initiative by Fijians in the armed forces, is now trying to lobby the British government for assistance.

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