CAMBODIA has been asked to contribute 200 troops to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, a move that would mark the Kingdom’s first foray into Middle East peacekeeping.
Sem Sovanny, the director general of the government’s Institute for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW (explosive remnants of war)
Clearance, said the UN had submitted the request for “at least 200” troops but added that most details of Cambodia’s potential participation in the mission had yet to be confirmed, including exactly how many troops would be needed, when they would depart and what work they would be given.
He said a delegation from the UN had arrived in Cambodia on Saturday and was set to observe the troops on Monday.
“We are waiting for the results from the evaluation of the United Nations,” Sem Sovanny said.
“This would be the first time that Cambodia had sent troops to Lebanon,” he said.
Cambodia has already sent peacekeeping forces to Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic. Earlier this month, Chhum Socheat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said that more than 200 troops were scheduled to travel to Chad and the Central African Republic in April to supplement a contingent of peacekeepers who deployed to the two countries last November.
Chhum Socheat said Sunday that he did not know the exact date for the new contingent’s departure. Sem Sovanny said he believed Cambodia would prepare troops to send to Lebanon before sending more to Chad and the Central African Republic.
The UN’s Interim Force in Lebanon was established in 1978 and tasked with confirming Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, restoring “international peace and security” and helping the Lebanese government with “restoring its effective authority in the area”.
Following the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, the operation’s mandate was expanded to include, among other things, efforts to promote “humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons”.