MORE than 200 troops from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are to depart for Chad and the Central African Republic next month to supplement a contingent of peacekeepers who deployed to the two countries last November, Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said late Sunday.
“The group of engineers will leave Cambodia in April,” Chhum Socheat said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in January that more peacekeepers would be sent to the two countries, but officials at the time noted that a memorandum of understanding had yet to be finalised with the United Nations, which was set to observe the troops in March.
Suong Khunny, deputy director general of the government’s Institute for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW (explosive remnants of war) Clearance, said Monday that the number of soldiers – originally pegged at just over 100 – had increased to more than 200, including 10 deminers, since Hun Sen’s announcement.
Seang Sene, commander of RCAF Engineering Unit 513, which is participating in the mission, said he had visited Chad and the Central African Republic in January.
“The weather is hotter there than in Cambodia, but it is OK for us,” he said.
Last November, 42 Cambodian peacekeepers travelled to the region to assist in the relocation of UN personnel and logistics assets, among other projects.
Prak Sokhon, chairman of the National Coordination Committee of UN Peacekeeping Operations, said earlier this month that the government plans to send a military attache to New York in order to strengthen its ability to lobby the UN for a greater role in peacekeeping operations.