The UN in Cambodia has expressed its appreciation for the continued support of the Kingdom to the UN’s peacekeeping operations.
Cambodia is in August to send an additional 98 troops from an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) unit as UN “blue helmet” peacekeepers to the Central African Republic (CAR) to deal with landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and improvised explosive devices.
Kosal Malinda, spokeswoman for the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC-ERW), said the Cambodian peacekeepers will be stationed in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), and will be divided into two groups in locations determined by the UN.
“The current situation in the Central African Republic is very challenging, with landmines and UXO and improvised explosive devices. That’s why the UN requires the forces from the [Cambodian] EOD unit to reduce the risk to civilians that hinders the peace process of the UN mission,” Malinda said.
Pauline Tamesis, UN resident coordinator in Cambodia, told The Post on June 16: “We appreciate the continued support of the Royal Government of Cambodia to UN peacekeeping operations.”
Malinda said in February that Cambodia is continuing to send 219 peacekeepers on a humanitarian mission under the UN umbrella in CAR.
The Kingdom first sent peacekeepers on a UN mission to Bria, the capital of CAR’s conflict-torn Haute-Kotto prefecture, in 2015, sending more than 200 blue helmets every year since.
In February, the UN requested an additional 15 troops for an expanded mission. The Cambodian peacekeepers in Bria will carry out construction, undertake demining, destroy UXO and build wells, as well as protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance.
“The situation will involve facing landmines and UXO, and there will likely be improvised explosive devices. The UN requested an additional 15 troops for undertaking demining to accompany our engineers,” Malinda said.
Malinda said the 98 new Cambodian peacekeepers from the EOD unit will undertake the mission this year, with the troops rotated once a year.
Yang Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said it was positive for Cambodia to take part in peacekeeping missions, with the Kingdom also dealing with the scourge of landmines.
With the Kingdom having been successful in dealing with landmines, it was good for Cambodian peacekeepers to use their experience on missions abroad, while expanding the country’s contribution to the UN in maintaining peace and ensuring human safety across the world, he added.
“Under the UN umbrella, we cannot be pleased alone. We must share our successes with other nations,” Kim Eng said.
The Kingdom has from 2006 to 2022 sent more than 8,000 peacekeeping troops, including more than 500 women, on 11 missions in nine countries, according to the NPMEC-ERW.
Cambodia this year has nearly 800 blue helmets carrying out peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Lebanon, CAR and Mali.
Meeting with Kathryn Campbell, secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NPMEC-ERW director-general Sem Sovanny requested that the Australian government continue to support the NPMEC-ERW until the destruction of the last landmine in Cambodia.
According to the NPMEC-ERW, Campbell complimented the Kingdom’s peacekeepers on their excellent results in peacekeeping operations, demining in Cambodia and participation in UN peacekeeping operations in conflict-torn countries.
“Campbell will continue to support the demining work in Cambodia and assist in training human resources to increase the number of women peacekeepers, as well as convey the requests and outcomes of the workshop to the Australian government,” it said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen told international observers at the recent commune council elections that while the UN had once sent peacekeepers to Cambodia, the Kingdom now dispatches blue helmets to carry out missions in other countries.