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Cambodian Blue Helmet dies of virus

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Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeeper Sar Savy died on Friday at 63 from Covid-19 while on a mission in the Republic of Mali. Supplied

Cambodian Blue Helmet dies of virus

The last rites for Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeeper Sar Savy, who died on Friday at 63 from Covid-19 while on a mission in the Republic of Mali, will be held on Wednesday and Thursday at the UN base there.

Cambodia’s National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces director-general Sem Sovanny told The Post on Sunday that Savy was a national-level military officer in good standing who had joined humanitarian work missions with the UN in Mali.

“Communicable Disease Control Department doctors in Mali are now preparing to disinfect Sar Savy’s remains to prepare for his last rites at the UN base in Mali,” he said.

He said UN peacekeepers from all countries who are on humanitarian missions in Mali were prepared to join the ceremony and many of them had expressed their deep regret over Savy’s death.

They said his death represented the loss of a resourceful, experienced Blue Helmet de-miner committed to restoring world peace.

Savy began his most recent mission in Mali in April last year as leader of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 231. After he completed his mission, he planned on returning to Cambodia this April, but his return was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sovanny said it is yet unknown when his body will be brought home to Cambodia. After requesting that his body be sent back, officials are now waiting for the decision of doctors and senior experts from the UN mission of Mali.

“Because Sar Savy died from Covid-19, we don’t know how the doctors and the UN experts in Mali will decide on our request to return his body to Cambodia. But the UN said it will inform us on the day of performing his last rites,” he said.

He said six Cambodian peacekeepers in Mali, including Savy, had been infected with Covid-19. Five of them have recovered.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Sunday that a total of 125 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in Cambodia, with 123 full recoveries.

One man is currently being treated at the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital in Banteay Meanchey province, while the other is receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital. The two latest cases were all imported.

There are five divisions of Cambodian Blue Helmet troops throughout the world, totalling 800 soldiers. Of that number, 80 are fulfilling peacekeeping missions in Lebanon, South Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic.

In light of the 72nd anniversary of Peacekeeping Day of the UN last Friday, Sovanny wrote a letter about the contributions of women in maintaining peace.

It said in the past 14 years, Cambodia has dispatched 6,742 troops, including 3,612 women, to nine countries across the world to fulfil 11 different missions.

“From 2006 to now, nine Cambodian youths have sacrificed their lives in the battlefield of the mission areas in the Republic of Mali,” Sovanny said.

UN Resident Coordinator to Cambodia Pauline Tamesis said in a letter: “Since 1948, 3,900 Blue Helmet troops have died in the cause of maintaining peace, including nine Cambodian Blue Helmet troops.”


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