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73 Blue Helmets sent for UN mission in South Sudan

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The UN Blue Helmets prepare to board their flight to South Sudan at the Phnom Penh International Airport. Facebook

Seventy-three Cambodian Blue Helmets were dispatched to South Sudan on Sunday to join the UN peacekeeping mission in the east African country.

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The move to commit more peacekeepers to UN missions abroad comes despite the global pandemic.

Initially, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to postpone the replacement of Cambodian peacekeeping troops on UN missions abroad.

However, Mr Hun Sen said he had changed his mind on August 16 and that Cambodia would remain committed to the UN peacekeeping mission.

Deputy director-general of the National Peacekeeping Centre Major General Kosal Malinda said that the Kingdom has sent over 800 Blue Helmet forces abroad, including more than 90 women, on UN missions.

“Despite the fear surrounding COVID -19, our Blue Helmets still volunteer for missions abroad with the UN. It is not difficult to select forces to send,” she said.

Director-general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NCPF) General Sem Sovanny said that the 73 Blue Helmets are replacing a group currently stationed in South Sudan, who are set to return today.

The 73 peacekeepers travelling to South Sudan includes 28 women, he added.

“All officers travelling abroad must follow the guidelines from the Ministry of Health,” he said.

“The peacekeepers have been informed that they must take all the measures disseminated to them to prevent COVID-19 transmission,” he added.

The latest dispatch follows the 218 Blue Helmets who were deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali on September 11.

The 139 Cambodia peacekeepers who returned from Mali have since been cleared of COVID-19, after undergoing a 14-day mandatory quarantine after their return on September 13.

According to a statement by the NCPF, all Blue Helmets – when returning from missions abroad – are given health checks, tested for COVID-19 and are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

NCPF stated that it has two locations for returning peacekeeping force to quarantine, namely the Peacekeeping Training Institute, which has 79 beds and the Multinational Peacekeeping Training School, which has 168 beds

On May 29, a Cambodian Blue Helmet identified as Major General Sar Savy died in a Mali hospital from the coronavirus.

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