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Government approves $15M for UN peacekeepers

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Cambodian UN peacekeepers at a Phnom Penh military airbase last year. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said the government had approved a budget of $15 million to buy armoured vehicles for its peacekeepers in Mali. Heng Chivoan

Government approves $15M for UN peacekeepers

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said the government has signed a $15 million deal to buy armoured vehicles for its UN peacekeeping forces in Mali.

At a Phnom Penh International University graduation ceremony in front of 1,200 students at the National Institute of Education, the prime minister said the government had requested the UN fulfil its obligations in equipping Cambodian peacekeepers with weapons in Mali.

However, due to a current financial crisis, the UN was unable to do so. The Kingdom consequently budgeted $15 million to buy the armoured vehicles.

“We will not be irresponsible and withdraw our army, nor will we leave our troops ill-equipped. They must have the armoured vehicles to keep peace,” he said.

The premier said that after four Cambodian peacekeepers were killed by a militia in Central African Republic in 2017, he had requested strengthening UN capabilities in some areas. The problem did not come from the troops, he said, but from the capacity of the UN.

“All it takes is this one measure to show that Cambodia is capable of joining in and keeping peace around the world, and that Cambodian soldiers’ abilities are not sub-standard. Cambodia solves its own problems, and we have to share our solutions. We also need to fight against capacity issues,” he said.

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh is on Tuesday to lead a delegation of senior Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officials to join the 2019 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference on Uniformed Capabilities, Performance and Protection at the invitation of UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, the Ministry of National Defence said on Monday.

The meeting is scheduled to take place on Friday at the headquarters in New York.

The meeting is to outline the budget and skills currently necessary for peacekeeping operations, the ministry said.

It will also reflect on efforts to strengthen peacekeeping initiatives, such as the UN Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which focuses on capacity building, execution and civilian protection.

“The meeting will focus on the result of discussions at three preparatory meetings in the past in Montevideo, The Hague and Addis Ababa,” it said.

Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat could not be reached for comment on the developments on Monday.

Since 2006, Cambodia has sent 5,783 troops, including 277 women, to assist in UN peacekeeping missions. Cambodia is the third largest contributor of UN peacekeeping forces in the Asean region behind Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Kingdom currently has 1,000 peacekeepers deployed in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Lebanon and Mali.

In January, Cambodia sent 184 peacekeepers to Lebanon to help clear unexploded ordnance left behind from previous conflicts.

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