Cambodia is to send 184 peacekeepers to Lebanon by the end of this month to join the UN mission in the Middle Eastern nation, the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mine and Explosive Remnants of War (NPMEC) told The Post on Wednesday.
The peacekeepers will work on mine clearance, demarcation and construction projects, and will relieve the 184 Cambodian troops whose year-long mission is ending, NPMEC spokeswoman Kosal Malinda said.
They will mainly focus on clearing unexploded ordnance left behind from previous conflicts in Lebanon.
Cambodia is the third largest contributor of UN peacekeeping forces in the Asean region behind Indonesia and Malaysia.
“According to primary information, they are to be deployed on January 15 or 17, but this may be pushed back as the UN has proposed a delay until the end of January. We rotate annually. We will send 184 troops and the same number will return,” Malinda said.
She added that Cambodian troops are respected for their mine clearance operations, notably being the first to use vehicles to clear explosive remnants of war in Lebanon.
Before being deployed there, the troops were trained in UN mine clearance standards and taught about the geography of the area they will be working in and health and safety practices.
Cambodia began sending troops to join the UN Interim Force in Lebanon in 2010. No Cambodian peacekeepers have been killed in Lebanon.
The peacekeeping force is made up of troops from the Ministry of National Defence, the General Command of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance Brigade 2, the National Defence University, the Army Command Centre and other units, Malinda said.
Since 2006, Cambodia has sent 5,783 troops, including 277 women, to assist in UN peacekeeping mission. The Kingdom currently has 1,000 peacekeepers deployed in four countries – the Republic of South Sudan, Central African Republic, Lebanon and Mali.
In November last year, four Cambodians were injured, one seriously, in a suicide attack while on a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. The blast killed three people.
The attack was claimed by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which is the area’s main jihadist group with links to al-Qaeda.
The injured Cambodians had been working as translators for the UN Mine Action Service (Unmas) since November 2014.