Prime Minister Hun Sen has agreed to send 40 prison officials to join a UN peacekeeping mission, a first for units outside of the Kingdom’s armed forces, according to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.

The minister said the premier approved the dispatch on February 6.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a letter dated December 28, 2022 requesting an approval to assign 40 expert prison officers to join the UN peacekeeping missions,” he said.

Sar Kheng said his ministry needs more experience for the new task as this is their first.

“To participate in UN peacekeeping missions, prison officers must be qualified and have adequate character, abilities and foreign language skills as well,” he said.

Sar Kheng noted that in a meeting held in Singapore about 10 years ago, senior UN officials initiated the idea of sending police officers to carry out missions under the UN authority.

National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC) spokeswoman Kosal Malinda said sending 40 prison officers on a mission under the UN authority was in response to their request.

“At the request of the UN side, the letter does not specify when the mission will begin or where. The selection will be done individually, not in groups or troops,” she said.

Malinda stated that each individual was required to fill out an application for the UN in order to undergo testing and then be selected on the basis of each individual’s ability.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, expressed his support for the government’s goodwill activities to help other countries that are suffering from conflicts because it showed the Kingdom’s active participation in the global peace process. He explained that Cambodia has experienced war, and that other countries under the UN umbrella had also assisted the Kingdom thereafter.

“Therefore, at this time, Cambodia has an obligation to participate in peacekeeping in other war-torn countries, which will show the world the good will of Cambodians,” he said.

According to (NPMEC, since 2006, Cambodia has sent a total of 8,859 soldiers, 681 of them women, on missions to nine countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Mali and Yemen.

Cambodia currently has 788 peacekeepers, including 130 women, on missions under UN authority in South Sudan, Lebanon, Mali and CAR.