Cambodia on May 5 sent a ninth contingent of 244 peacekeepers, 30 of them women (12.3%), to join a UN peacekeeping operation in the impoverished, war-torn Central Africa Republic (CAR), according to the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC).

Pol Saroeun, Senior Minister in Charge of Sending Troops to UN Peacekeeping Missions, presided over a send-off ceremony for Engineering Unit 423 that morning in the capital, the NPMEC said in a statement, noting that UN resident coordinator in Cambodia Joseph Scheuer and the centre’s director-general Sem Sovanny were also present at the event.

Sovanny had mentioned in June that Cambodian UN peacekeepers in 2015 first carried out a mission in Bria, capital of the conflict-torn Haute-Kotto prefecture of CAR, and that the Kingdom has sent more than 200 “blue helmets” to the landlocked African country on eight occasions.

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) began a year earlier on April 10, 2014.

Sovanny told the ceremony that the personnel of the ninth contingent, who are from 40 units of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), “have all received quality, professional pre-deployment training from Cambodian trainers and from those of friendly countries to ensure the same levels of efficiency and effectiveness as the previous units”, the statement noted.

According to the NPMEC, April 15, 2006 marked the first time that Cambodia dispatched troops to take part in UN peacekeeping missions. By mid-March 2023 the Kingdom had sent a total of 8,951 peacekeepers – 692 of them women (7.73%) – to join UN missions in the CAR, Chad, Cyprus, Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“General Pol Saroeun conveyed his sincere appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifice of Cambodian peacekeepers,” the statement said.

Scheuer too expressed his gratitude and pride for Cambodia’s firm commitment to peacekeeping, and commended the Kingdom for its successes in its pursuit of the UN Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy, it said.

According to the UN, that strategy entails having women by 2028 comprise at least: 15 per cent of “military peacekeepers in troop contingents”, 20 per cent of “police in formed police units”, 25 per cent of “military observers and staff officers”, and 30 per cent of “individual police officers”.

As of February 28, Cambodia ranked 26th out of a list of 126 countries for most uniformed personnel on UN peacekeeping missions, at 850, and 10th for women contributed, at 142, a report from the intergovernmental organisation shows.

The top five contributors of personnel were Bangladesh (7,269), Nepal (6,264), India (6,090), Rwanda (5,931) and Pakistan (4,194), while the same for women were Nepal (620), Rwanda (573), Bangladesh (498), Ghana (441) and Senegal (252).

The top 10 countries contributing at least 100 personnel with the highest ratios of women were Nigeria (27.88%), Zambia (19.58%), South Africa (17.76%), Congo (17.19%), Cambodia (16.71%), Ghana (16.00%), Kenya (15.96%), Argentina (15.88%), Uganda (15.31%) and Sweden (15.18%).

These include experts on mission, formed police units, individual police, staff officers and troops, the report noted.