The family of a Cambodian peacekeeper who died of malaria in 2015 in Mali while on a UN peacekeeping mission yesterday finally received $70,000 in compensation as promised.
Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn oversaw a ceremony to hand over the compensation yesterday to the family of Second Lieutenant Suon Sambo and issued an explanation for why it took so long wrangle.
Mr Sokhonn said discrepancies in cause of death records complicated the process, noting that a different cause of death was recorded in Senegal when compared to Mali and Cambodia.
General Sem Sovanny, director-general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, also said that the delay was caused by death certificate discrepancies.
Mr Sokhonn said that Cambodia requested that the UN review the case multiple times. Finally, the UN recognised Mr Sambo’s death and agreed to issue compensation in December.
Mr Sokhonn added that he was saddened over the delay and accusations from people that claimed the delay was the government’s fault, even telling the family that officials were taking the money for themselves.
“Honestly, I am sad because we worked very hard to secure this compensation for the family,” he said.
“Peacekeepers get salaries and compensation from the UN,” Mr Sokhonn added. “Do not be confused that the government is responsible; they wear blue helmets, and are under the control of the UN.”
Hubert Staberhofer, with United Nations Office for Project Services, yesterday applauded the handing over of compensation.
“I am delighted to see that the necessary investigations by the UN Department of Field Support have been completed and compensation has been processed,” he said. “Money cannot bring back a loved one but we hope it will help to ease the financial burden.”
Mr Staberhofer said that Mr Sambo was held in high regard by his fellow peacekeepers and senior officers, noting his death was a devastating loss for the family, the armed forces, the government and the UN.
Mr Sambo’s wife Nov Sovann, accompanied by her young daughter, accepted the compensation from Mr Sokhonn.
“This compensation will help the family’s needs,” Ms Sovann said, adding that she accepted the reasoning for late compensation provided by the government. Since 2014, nine peacekeepers have died or been killed while on duty abroad, while another 11 have been injured.
Of the nine dead, seven families have received compensation from the UN, with the other two cases being dismissed as the fault of the soldier.
More than 5,000 Cambodian troops have been deployed on peacekeeping missions since 2006 in eight countries.
Currently, there are 813 peacekeepers are missions in Sudan, South Sudan, Lebanon, Mali and Central African Republic.