Cambodian Soldiers To Clear Mines in Sudan

The Cambodian military’s first de­ployment to an international UN peacekeeping mission will begin next week, when a 10-member ad­vance team will leave for Sudan to help clear mines in the war-torn Afri­­can nation, officials said on Sun­day. A total of 135 Cambodian personnel will be in Sudan by mid-April, working out of Malakal, in Sudan’s Up­­­­­­­per Nile state, military officials said.

“It is a historic event for Cambo­dia. So far, we have achieved a big out­­come of the de-mining in Cam­bo­­dia and sent our report to the Uni­ted Nations…. Later on, the Uni­ted Nations sent a request to Prime Minis­ter [Hun Sen] to organize one team to send to Sudan,” said RCAF Lieutenant Colonel Ngu­on Sok, the unit commander who will lead the advance team leaving on Feb 26.

Troops have been training for near­ly a year in preparation for the mis­sion, according to Major Ker Sav­oeun, assistant to RCAF Joint Chief of Staff General Pol Saroeun.

“We have been training for al­most six months at the training school, and then another six months we had to train for UN standards,” Ker Savoeun said, adding that all Cambodian personnel had been accredited by the UN.

A ship carrying 25 military trucks, 70 mine detectors and other equipment left Sihanoukville Port on Feb 17, Ker Savoeun said. The ship should reach Sudan in three weeks.

Nguon Sok said soldiers will also be equipped with six machine guns and more than 100 AK-47 rifles for self-protection. But he said he is less concerned with the potential dangers than with the rewards.

“It is very interesting for me. I want Cambodia to be developed by send­ing out the troops, and after that we will bring in new techniques. When we go there, we will have many friendly countries who we can learn from. We have to know about international standards,” he said.

Mine Action Authority Deputy Sec­­retary-General Leng Sochea said the UN will reimburse Cambo­dia for its part in the multimillion-dollar re­­­lief effort. Soldiers will be dispatch­ed for one-year tours at the most, he said, but as many as seven more com­panies will be trained to re­­­place them once they return.

Leng So­chea noted that Cambo­dia has been in­volved in mine-clearing since 1970.

“Cambodia must share its expertise,” he said. “It is not difficult for us, but it is very dangerous there. So we must ask the soldiers to be very vigilant.”

 

 

 

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