In the past 20 years, the remains of over 1,000 Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and specialists had been repatriated from Kandal province to their homeland, according to a local military officer.

Ney Niyom, commander of the central military sub-region operations and permanent deputy chairman of the Kandal provincial expert commission, provided the figure at a November 13 ceremony to begin the next phase of recovery and repatriation operations.

He said that earlier in the year, personnel from his command – working with elements of the K90 unit – located the remains of 22 Vietnamese in 13 locations in Khsach Kandal and Lvea Em districts. The remains were returned at a previous ceremony in July.

“From 2002 to July this year, we have identified and repatriated the remains of 1,210 Vietnamese,” he said.

He said Phase 22 would continue operations during the 2022-23 dry season.

Don Thanh Xuan, deputy political director and chief of the 515th Division of Military Region 9 of the Vietnamese People’s Army, also addressed the November 13 ceremony.

“We signed the agreement to continue to identify, exhume and repatriate the remains of Vietnamese soldiers and specialists during the 2022-2023 dry season in Kandal province. This demonstrates the solidarity between the two provinces,” he said.

Provincial governor Kong Sophorn said this cooperation showed the shared culture and traditions between Cambodia and their Vietnamese neighbours, who he considered “family”.

“Participation in identifying these men who sacrificed their lives in wartime Cambodia and returning them to their home is humanitarian work, and shows the true heart of the Cambodian people,” he said.