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Defence Minister highlights peacekeeping achievements

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Defence Minister General Tea Banh speaks at the UN in New York. Facebook

During his trip to the United Nations in New York, Defence Minister General Tea Banh highlighted the achievements of Cambodian troops on peacekeeping missions.

Gen Banh left the Kingdom on Tuesday to attend an annual UN peacekeeping ministerial meeting and will return today.

During a Saturday UN conference, Gen Banh said Cambodia was once a nation that depended on the UN.

“Just more than 20 years ago, Cambodia used to receive UN peacekeepers to assist in finding peace and safety for Cambodian citizens and each made a priceless sacrifice,” he said, adding that Cambodia today is able to contribute to peacekeeping missions.

Gen Banh said since 2006, Cambodian blue helmets have been deployed to Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Lebanon, Mali, Central African Republic, Syria and Cyprus. He noted that currently, Cambodian peacekeepers are active in the Central African Republic, Lebanon, South Sudan and Mali.

“Despite limited resources available, Cambodia can contribute to peace, stability and humanitarian work at the international level,” Gen Banh said. “For this reason, Cambodia should be given more justice and greater support.”

He added that Cambodia is determined to support “action for peace”, such as strengthening skills of UN peacekeepers before deployment, protecting civilians, and combatting violence and sex trafficking.

Gen Banh said Cambodia would also increase communication with other troop-contributing countries to achieve “common goals of peace and security”.

He also noted Cambodians have the right to express themselves.

“Cambodia has always promoted freedom of expression, human rights and democracy through regular election planning,” Gen Banh said. “Any attempt to find an excuse for [justifying] any kind of punishment affects progress and efforts.”

UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said 110 member states participated in the meeting this year and demonstrated “the deep and widespread commitment to peacekeeping, by governments across the world”.

“We cannot achieve lasting peace without our partners,” Mr Lacroix said.

UN secretary-general António Guterres said 27 blue helmets were killed in 2018.

“Making our missions stronger and safer is one of the key elements of my Action for Peacekeeping initiative, together with refocusing peacekeeping with more realistic expectations, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions,” Mr Guterres said.

He said since 2013 in Mali, more than 119 peacekeepers have been killed and 397 others injured. He noted UN peacekeepers in Mali are in urgent need of armoured personnel carriers and are asking member countries for help.

“I hope you will also consider innovative solutions like triangular partnerships and joint contingents, in which one group of governments provides equipment and training, and another provides troops and police,” Mr Guterres said.

Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the government would spend $15 million to purchase APCs for the protection of Cambodian peacekeepers in Mali.

Mr Hun Sen said Cambodia will not withdraw peacekeepers from Mali.

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