France continues to stand by Cambodia in providing assistance for international peacekeeping and security operations, as evidenced by the help it provided training Cambodian forces at a recent military skills training course, according to Fabrice Etienne, first secretary at the French embassy in Cambodia.

At the closing ceremony for the military skills training course in Odong in Kampong Speu province on October 21, Etienne said that France will always stand by Cambodia in difficult times and will continue to provide assistance to the Kingdom, especially in the fields of international peacekeeping and security operations.

“I would like to reiterate the strong friendship between our two countries. France has always stood by Cambodia in difficult times because of our shared history. France will continue to provide assistance to Cambodia, especially in the field of international peacekeeping operations and international security, which is a major international issue today.

“Currently, Cambodia and France are important contributors to the cause of peace. Therefore, my country’s unwavering commitment is to provide financing, materials and operations for this training course,” Etienne said.

He added that this assistance provided to the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC) and the National Gendarmerie was a military skills training course that meets the requirements of the UN and focuses on the legalities, techniques and skills in line with the tactics and work of UN police officers.

At the same ceremony, Ouch Borith, permanent secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, stated that maintaining peace is a precarious job that requires military strength and specialised skills.

Borith said the military officers voluntarily work for peace and sacrifice their physical and mental strength, and even their lives, while working within the framework of international and local laws and regulations, which requires strong confidence and a high level of commitment.

Borith continued that over the years, the RCAF and NPMEC have made significant contributions to the UN’s peacekeeping operations as the Kingdom currently has over 800 highly trained peacekeepers who are deployed on missions.

Borith said that this year marks the 30th anniversary of Cambodia hosting UN “blue helmet” soldiers, including French peacekeepers, who contributed to the cause of peace when Cambodia was a poor land that was filled with conflict and torn apart by war, noting that during the mission four brave French soldiers sacrificed their lives for the cause of peace in Cambodia.

Borith said that this newly completed military training course is invaluable for both the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces (RCAF) and the Cambodian people as it helps provide additional knowledge and skills in the security field while also building solidarity, friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and France.

“This year and in the future, Cambodia remains highly committed to international humanitarian activities by continuing to participate in UN peacekeeping missions around the world,” he stated.

For the past 16 years, Cambodia has sent “blue helmet” forces on peacekeeping missions under the UN umbrella, with a total of 8,302 soldiers, 580 of them women, dispatched to nine countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Chad, Mali and Central African Republic (CAR).

A total of 801 soldiers are currently on peacekeeping missions in four countries: Mali, CAR, Lebanon and Sudan. They include specialists in mine clearance, demining and unexploded ordnance, civil engineering, airport engineering, observation officers and chiefs of staff.