The National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC) is preparing a funeral for a Cambodian peacekeeper deployed to the Tessalit region of Mali.

A February 11 press release said NPMEC director-general Sem Sovanny had chosen a location for a funeral service for Phoeuk Chivoan, who died from a “pre-existing” medical condition at the age of 42 on February 9.

Chivoan was deputy commander of Airport Engineering Squadron 729, assigned to Mali’s Tessalit region.

NPMEC spokesman Kosal Malinda said Cambodia was working with the UN side on holding the funeral for Chivoan.

It has initially been concluded that Chivoan died due to a severe asthma attack as he was known to have a respiratory condition and the circumstances aligned with it. The UN side is continuing to look into the case and once it is determined that Chivoan lost his life while on mission, the UN will offer compensation for his family.

“Our side and the leadership were saddened when Cambodia lost a hero who had a lot of technical know-how to help on the mission. He joined as the deputy commander of the

Airport Engineering Squadron and was an engineer himself. He was much-respected and had performed his tasks in an exemplary manner and achieved many objectives. His passing saddens us,” she said.

She added that Cambodia was not certain as to when the body of Chivoan will arrive in Cambodia. The NPMEC and the UN mission team were continuing to work on the situation, but the autopsy is still in the investigating stage to determine his exact cause of death.

Royal Academy of Cambodia secretary-general Yang Peou said he was saddened by the loss of a Cambodian peacekeeper while on mission overseas, not only for his family, but because this was the loss of a vital human resource for the Kingdom.

“Sending Cambodian forces to take part in peacekeeping missions under the UN umbrella is very meaningful for Cambodia. The missions are necessary to help other nations that experience war overcome it and find peace and stability. Cambodia also went through a civil war and the UN’s ‘blue helmet’ troops came to the aid of Cambodia after the Paris Peace Agreements were signed,” he said.

Malinda said that so far – over the history of all UN mission deployments – 11 Cambodian peacekeepers have died, with 15 others wounded while on missions.

According to the NPMEC, Cambodia has since 2006 dispatched over 8,000 peacekeepers to missions in nine countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Mali and Yemen.