Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn yesterday said Cambodian peacekeepers are now facing higher risks in conflicts involving a growing number of rebels.
Speaking to reporters after presiding over the launch of an operation to destroy 250 tonnes of dud ammunition in Kampong Speu province, Mr Sokhonn said Cambodian troops have gained a lot of experience in UN peacekeeping missions, adding that the Kingdom has dispatched more than 6,300 peacekeepers in conflicts around the world over the last 13 years.
Mr Sokhonn said the country will continue to send blue helmets to participate in UN peacekeeping missions. However, he also noted that some countries where the troops are deployed have experienced growingly tense conditions.
“Our mission is risky,” Mr Sokhonn said. “In the first few years, we did not encounter many problems. But now the situation has become more complex.”
“Like in Mali and the Central African Republic, there are so many rebel groups,” he added. “There are conflicts between these groups, as well as between these groups and its government. In these two countries, there is no week when the situation is calm without any conflicts.”
Mr Sokhonn noted that in May 2017, four Cambodian peacekeeping personnel died in the Central African Republic during an attack by Christian insurgents in the southeastern part of the country.
He also noted that the government is now providing additional self-defence capacity for the troops and making sure that the troops can operate all gear and equipment offered to ensure their success in their mission.
“We have received a lot of compliments from the top leaders of UN peacekeeping missions because Cambodian troops are committed to serving peace,” he said. “Our troops have firmly respected regulations and laws of the UN and the countries they are stationed in, so most of the countries have praised our hard work.”
Major General Phal Samorn, spokesman for the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, yesterday said the government has sought to better arm the troops in their missions, adding that Cambodian troops are not hesitating to continue their duties.
“We have cooperated closely with foreign troops from 20 other countries stationed nearby to ensure that we could help each other during attacks,” he said. “We have also trained our troops with skills to protect themselves.”
“We all know those areas are dangerous. So we must be well-prepared,” he added.
Since 2006, Cambodia began deploying peacekeeping forces specialised in demining and engineering under UN control to work in eight countries, including Chad, the Central African Republic, Lebanon, North Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Cyprus and Mali.
In January 2019, the UN ranked Cambodia 29th out of 122 troop-contributing countries, and second among Asean countries for the most female peacekeepers.