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Kingdom’s ‘blue helmets’ turn 15

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Cambodian peacekeepers prepare to leave Phnom Penh International Airport for a UN mission in Lebanon in January. DEFENCE MINISTRY

Kingdom’s ‘blue helmets’ turn 15

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh praised the UN Centre for Peacekeeping Forces for giving Cambodian peacekeepers the opportunity to raise the profile of the Kingdom’s soldiers and military personnel and make positive contributions on the international stage by choosing them for many of the most important and challenging missions over the last 15 years.

Tea Banh made the remarks while presiding over a meeting with military officers and soldiers at Cambodia’s National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC) on November 2.

“For more than 15 years, the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces has been the unit of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces [RCAF] that has done the most to improve Cambodia’s image internationally.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia remains committed to increasing ties and improving relations with partner countries and other nations’ contributing forces through our shared efforts to bring peace and stability to the regions our forces are deployed to.

“Our peacekeepers train hard to improve day by day. We’ve also worked to increase the participation of women – and continue to do so – and they now make up 20 per cent of our peacekeeping forces,” he said.

He also spoke about how Cambodia continues to incorporate its forces into the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS) – including engineers, Military Police and demining forces. All these factors are motivated by the goodwill of the Cambodian government to advance the causes of peace, security and humanitarianism in the world.

He also had words of praise and sent his regards to the Cambodian peacekeeping forces, past and present, who have fulfilled UN peacekeeping missions at home and abroad.

“In these last 15 years, Cambodia has been very proud that the [government] ... has made brave and selfless decisions when faced with the task of writing new pages of our national history. Today it can be said that the people of Cambodia as a whole have contributed to the preservation of world peace,” Tea Banh said.

The NPMEC has played an important role in the UN peacekeeping missions and drew the admiration of the international community, he said.

NPMEC director-general Sem Sovanny said that since 2006, the centre has sent 7,826 military personnel – including 494 women – on 11 UN peacekeeping missions to nine countries: Sudan, Chad, South Sudan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic and Yemen.

“In these past 15 years, the NPMEC has evolved in terms of size, resources, skills and our network of supporters and friends both at home – and abroad – where the centre has made many friends from countries both large and small that love peace and wish to keep the peace,” he said.

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