Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hundreds of Cambodian peacekeepers bound for Africa



Hundreds of Cambodian peacekeepers bound for Africa

Cambodian peacekeepers march at a send-off ceremony on Thursday ahead of shipping out for South Sudan and Mali.
Cambodian peacekeepers march at a send-off ceremony on Thursday ahead of shipping out for South Sudan and Mali. Heng Chivoan

Hundreds of Cambodian peacekeepers bound for Africa

Hundreds gathered at Phnom Penh’s Pochentong military air base on Thursday morning to send off a new cohort of peacekeepers to Africa.

Among the 428 blue helmets are doctors, deminers and drivers bound for Mali and South Sudan on Friday.

Cambodia currently has 813 troops in war-torn countries abroad. Since 2006, a total of 5,257 peacekeepers have served, but not all have returned home alive.

After an attack in Central African Republic (CAR) that saw four Cambodian peacekeepers killed, Prime Minister Hun Sen doubled down on the Kingdom’s commitment of troops, vowing to increase numbers.

Those departing on Friday will be sent to replace blue helmets already on the ground, according to Kosal Malida, spokesperson at the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC).

As the wet morning gave way to sweltering sun, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun told the troops that a recent attack on a UN camp in Mali would not deter them.

“Even though Cambodia army [members] had suffered an attack by the rebellious group in Mali, Cambodia does not pull back, it still continues to struggle and sacrifice fresh flesh and blood,” he said.

Saroeun, a Permanent Committee member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, also took the opportunity to lambast so-called “colour revolution”, the purported threat of which the government has repeatedly cited to justify its crackdown on its only viable political competition.

“There is no country that wants a war, because war causes destruction, breaking up and suffering. In this context, Cambodia considers peace as the first and top priority,” Saroeun said.

“So for the sake of firmly protecting peace and protecting the cornerstones of national security, political stability and prosperity of the Cambodian society, [the] nation has implemented the legal measure firmly and strictly, and successfully prevented colour revolution tricks of the former opposition party that attempted to topple the legitimate government.”

UN representative Alexandre Huynh, on the other hand, chose to extol the number of women shattering glass ceilings.

“Military service requires courage from all, but it takes special courage to break gender barriers and pursue careers in a male-dominated field,” he said.

Of the peacekeepers due to depart Friday, 24 are female, with 50 currently on mission and a total of 236 volunteering since 2006.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Preah Sihanouk hit with travel ban

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has announced a temporary travel ban to and from the province, except for ambulances and trucks transporting goods. The announcement came after prime minister Hun Sen called on people in the province to travel only if necessary, and that people not

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.