Cambodia has dispatched 218 Blue Helmets to join the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission in Mali.
A ceremony to send them off on Friday was presided over by the director-general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NCPF) General Sem Sovanny at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
According to NCPF, the 218 peacekeepers – of whom 18 are women – are replacing the equal number of Blue Helmets who are on their way back home.
Speaking at the event, Gen Sovanny said the personnel being sent have certificates stating that each individual has tested negative for COVID-19 before departure and upon arrival will undergo 14-day quarantine before beginning their mission.
He said that Cambodia takes COVID-19 transmission seriously and will take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the peacekeepers.
He said the NCPF also reminds all Cambodian forces who are on overseas missions to be vigilant and take measures to prevent transmission of the virus.
“Despite the global pandemic, Cambodia is committed to keep sending personnel for peacekeeping missions as part of its obligations as a member of the United Nations,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NCPF has organised two quarantine centres for the returning peacekeepers in the Kingdom, with 79 beds ready at the Peacekeeping Training Institute and 168 beds at Multinational Peacekeeping Training School in Kampong Speu.
According to NCPF, Cambodia has so far committed some 800 of its Blue Helmets, including 80 women, to UN peacekeeping missions across Lebanon, South Sudan, Mali and the Republic Central Africa.
On May 29, Cambodian peacekeeping officer General Sor Savy died in a hospital in Mali after contracting COVID-19.
Gen Savy was an officer from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit stationed in Mali’s Timbuktu city.
On August 17, Prime Minister Hun Sen recommitted to UN missions abroad after initially deciding against it due to the risks presented by the coronavirus.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and its troops must still be committed to participating in the important peacekeeping missions under the UN umbrella,” he said.