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Blinded peacekeeper seeking disability pay

UN Peacekeepers leave Phnom Penh International Airport for placement earlier this year.
UN Peacekeepers leave Phnom Penh International Airport for placement earlier this year. Vireak Mai

Blinded peacekeeper seeking disability pay

A former UN peacekeeper disabled while serving in Mali has requested help from the government and the United Nations to secure adequate compensation.

Pea Sophorn, 35, penned a letter dated December 11 to Claire Van der Vaeren, the UN resident coordinator for Cambodia, stating his service as a medic in Mali in 2014 where he fell ill from food poisoning, causing blindness.

Repatriated in September 2014, Sophon wrote that he sold all his property to pay for treatment.

“Now I am hopeless, since I lost everything”, he said, pleading for the UN to provide redress.

Speaking yesterday, Sophon said the UN had not yet replied but added that Sem Sovanny – the general director of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC) – offered 1 million riel (about $250) and some food.

“I do not know what to do if the government is poor . . . the UN should take the responsibility because the accident happened when I was fulfilling my duty in the UN mandate,” he said.

NPMEC deputy director-general Phal Samorn said the government had attended to Sophon’s case and is preparing a request to the UN. Samorn also confirmed that Sophon is receiving his monthly army disability salary.

In an email yesterday, Van der Vaeren’s office confirmed receipt of Sophon’s letter and said a meeting with the NPMEC is scheduled for next week.

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