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Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

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Some of the 80 Cambodian peacekeepers assigned to a mission in Mali prepare for departure at the Phnom Penh International Airport on July 8. Information Ministry

Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida.

“To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to be quarantined for 14 days at the Training Centre for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Phnom Sruoch, in Kampong Speu province, according to safety measures of the Ministry of Health,” she said.

Malida said Cambodia on Wednesday sent 80 replacement troops from the Airport Engineering Unit 972 and Unexploded Ordnance Disposal Unit 882 to fulfil the humanitarian mission in Mali.

Those forces were kept in quarantine for 14 days at the Training Centre for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces, under the strict supervision of the World Health Organisation in Cambodia.

“Even though the world is experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambodia is not reluctant to send our blue helmet forces to join the peacekeeping mission under the UN,” Malida said.

She said Cambodian forces have had many accomplishments in the Mali mission. Until this year, the number of female troops had increased by over 17 per cent. Cambodia was ranked 17 out of 127 countries in the number of female forces sent on UN missions, and ranks second in Southeast Asia.

A Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeeper, Sar Savy, recently died from Covid-19 in Mali. The solider was a 63-year-old major general in Mkak commune’s Chong Boeung village in Kandal province’s Angk Snuol district.

His body was buried in Mali under the arrangement of the head of the UN and the government of Mali.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen expressing his condolences to the Cambodian government. He also sent a letter to Savy’s family.

To date, Cambodia has had five peacekeeping units totalling 787 soldiers fulfilling missions under the UN umbrella in Lebanon, Sudan, South Sudan, Mali and Central Africa.

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