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Disaster relief exercises set with neighbours

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Participants rescue a man from a river during disaster relief drills in Kandal province in 2006. KT/Khem Sovannara

The Defence Ministry on Monday announced that it will conduct a joint military disaster relief exercise with Vietnam, Thailand and Laos at the end of the year in Svay Rieng province.

The announcement comes one month after Prime Minister Hun Sen requested the Thai and Vietnamese government to host joint drills to address possible disasters along border areas.

Senior officials at the Defence Ministry and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces held a meeting in Phnom Penh on Monday to discuss the Disaster and Emergency Planning for Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

General Moeng Samphan, a secretary of state at the Defence Ministry, led the meeting and said the joint disaster relief exercise is expected to be conducted in Svay Rieng province.

“We are ready to cooperate with our neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, at the end of this year,” Gen Samphan said. “We are preparing to conduct a joint military exercise in border areas in Svay Rieng province.”

“This military exercise will be large-scale, which has never happened before,” he added.

Gen Samphan said various units under the jurisdictions of the ministry and RCAF will attend the exercise, including Brigade 70 troops, Paratrooper Brigade 911, the Army and Navy forces.

“Those units are ready for the joint exercise and are preparing everything with regards to disaster response, such as equipment and rescue forces for any possible disaster,” he said.

He explained that the military exercises will focus on drills for sinking ship rescues, plane crashes, building collapses and natural disaster responses.

During the meeting, Gen Samphan also called on military commanders to increase capacity on responses to help people facing natural disasters, such as floods, droughts and storms.

General Chhum Sucheat, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, yesterday confirmed that Cambodia will conduct a joint military exercise in Svay Rieng province. However, he said the total number of troops participating has not yet been confirmed.

“The ministry just held the meeting on this matter yesterday [Monday], and I don’t have detailed information yet,” Gen Sucheat said, noting that he will provide further information when it is available.

Mr Hun Sen during a visit to Switzerland early last month said he wanted to request Thai and Vietnamese authorities to conduct joint drills along border areas.

“I want to ask Thai and Vietnamese authorities to host joint drills. Why am I thinking of this? The main goal is to address disasters along the border,” he said.

Kin Phea, director-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, yesterday said he welcomed the upcoming joint military disaster relief exercise in Svay Rieng province.

“I think this joint exercise is good because we can cooperate with each other to maintain security, order, and especially, we can prepare well ahead of any possible accidents or natural disasters,” he said.

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