Cambodian “blue helmet” Sar Savy will be among more than 100 UN peacekeepers posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on May 27.
The medal is awarded by the UN to military personnel, police or civilian forces who sacrificed their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping operations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will preside over the ceremony at which the medal will be awarded to 129 personnel who died serving under the UN flag last year and in the first month of this year.
Guterres will lay a wreath to honour the more than 4,000 UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives since 1948.
“Among the fallen peacekeepers to be honoured is Cambodia’s Colonel Sar Savy who served with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali,” the UN said in a press release on May 25.
Savy, 63, died in May 2020 from Covid-19 while on a mission in Mali, while five other Cambodian soldiers who contracted the disease recovered.
The colonel led the explosive ordnance disposal unit 231 on a mission to the country in April 2019. After completing the mission, he planned on returning to Cambodia in April 2020, but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 27 Cambodian blue helmets have lost their lives while serving as UN Peacekeepers, said the press release.
“Cambodia is the 27th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping. It currently deploys 767 peacekeepers to the UN peace operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Mali, Sudan, and South Sudan,” it said.
Guterres said the fallen peacekeepers’ service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.
“I express my deep gratitude to the 85,000 civilian, police and military personnel currently deployed in some of the world’s most challenging hotspots to protect the vulnerable and help to build peace,” he said.
Guterres added despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, as well as the risk of infection, these men and women have pursued their mission while also supporting local authorities in the fight against Covid-19.
“I offer sincere condolences to the families of peacekeepers who have fallen victim to this terrible disease,” he added.
Cambodia’s National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces director-general Sem Sovanny declined to comment.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was established by the UN General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.