Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said the government has agreed to spend $15 million to purchase armoured vehicles for the protection of Cambodian UN peacekeepers in Mali.
“Last week, we agreed to spend $15 million because the United Nations need armoured vehicles in Mali – we made a request about the vehicles before, but the UN was faced with budget constraints,” Mr Hun Sen said. “We cannot leave our troops there without the protection of armoured vehicles, so we signed to disburse the funds needed for the purchase of the vehicles to be sent to Mali.”
He added that Cambodian peacekeepers under the UN’s umbrella are not only low-ranking operators, but many hold higher rankings.
“We are now integrating our military officers into the framework of the UN, not only operators. We are there as staffers and officials, even during the attack on our troops in Central Africa,” he said. “I previously asked for the strengthening of all UN staffers and commanders in hostile places.”
In November last year, four Cambodian peacekeepers working for the UN were injured in a car bomb attack which killed two people in northern Mali.
According to a Defence Ministry statement, Defence Minister General Tea Banh will soon have a meeting with UN peacekeeping representatives in New York to talk about its missions.
Last week, Gen Banh said during a homecoming ceremony for Cambodian blue helmets that Cambodian peacekeepers are globally recognised for their contribution.
“According to information listed by the United Nations’ official website, at the end of 2018, we were ranked 24th out of 123 countries, 10th out of 24 countries in Asia and third out of 10 Asean countries to have contributed the most the most number of soldiers to UN Peacekeeping Missions,” Gen Banh said.
Gen Banh said that in the past 13 years, Cambodian personnel have accomplished international tasks such as assisting troop development, law enforcement, demining efforts and infrastructure repair.
He added that blue helmets have also helped create fortifications, maintain security checkpoints and provide logistical support.
“This is one of the great potentials of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ integrating into the UN’s multi-national system,” he said.
Pauline Tamesis, UN resident coordinator, last week said the UN peace operations are conducted all over the world in many high-risk places.
Ms Tamesis noted that since the year 2006, almost six thousand peacekeepers from Cambodia were deployed to Lebanon, Sudan, South Sudan, Mali, Chad, Cyprus, Syria and Central African Republic.
“In many places, peacekeepers are deployed where peace itself is at stake and they face hostility and risks of armed conflicts,” Ms Tamesis said. “At great personal risk, the UN peacekeepers help stabilise communities, protect civilians, promote the rule of law and advance human rights for the causes of peace building and humanitarian action.”