73 Cambodian ‘blue helmets’ depart for South Sudan

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Seventy-three soldiers from the Royal Gendarmerie Company 739 departed on November 16 for a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. PHOTO BY NPMEC-ERW

Seventy-three soldiers from the Royal Gendarmerie Company 739 departed on November 16 for a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. They are replacing Cambodian peacekeepers who returned home on the same day.

Kosal Malinda, spokeswoman for the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC-ERW), told The Post on November 17 that the role of the soldiers is to ensure public order, traffic control, guard UN delegations, and conduct safety patrols for the citizens of [South] Sudan,” she said.

According to Malina, the participation rate of Cambodian women peacekeepers on overseas missions is 46 per cent – 15 per cent over the UN requirements. The participation of women peacekeepers indicates progressive thinking in the context of a new lifestyle, cooperation, solidarity and courage to always fulfill their role anytime and anywhere.

As for the soldiers who recently returned, Malina said they were warmly welcomed by the NPMEC-ERW and some high-ranking officials from the Ministry of National Defence. They took rapid tests for the coronavirus at Phnom Penh International Airport, and none was found to be positive, he said.

"Because they had not received the third Covid-19 vaccine dose, medical staff vaccinated them before allowing them to return to their respective families,” she said.

She added that all of them must quarantine for seven days at home before having any close contact with family members or other people.

According to the NPMEC-ERW, Cambodia has sent a total of 7,899 soldiers, 528 of them women, on UN peacekeeping missions since 2006.

This year 730 Cambodian blue helmets have fulfilled peacekeeping missions in South Sudan. Among them,124 were women.