F ORMER "Blue Helmets" - ex-soldiers who worked for United Nations' peacekeeping
missions - have formed an association to continue humanitarian work as
The first lengthy project to be undertaken by the
newly-established NGO Soldiers of Peace International Association (SPIA) is in
Ex-French Marines David Hornus, Yves Rueda and Jean-Marie Blanc
are in Svey Rieng building three new classrooms at a school that teaches 1500
children in just three existing rooms. The school has another 20 classrooms that
are broken down and unfit for any use.
SPIA, a French-based association
that has just received first category NGO status from the UN, is 7,000-strong
and growing rapidly as "Blue Helmets" gradually retire from their respective
armies. SPIA has French, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, German and
British ex-UN soldiers.
Members want to continue the work they did as
peacekeepers, and, as money can be raised, teams will be sent to their former
countries of tour. The $15,000 raised by this first team to Cambodia came from
French government grants, and small of private donations.