The search for the remains of Vietnamese soldiers who died on Cambodian soil has become increasingly difficult due to rapid changes in the terrain, but efforts will continue, members of the Committee for Finding Vietnamese Volunteer Soldiers’ remains said.
“More buildings have been constructed and many things at the sites where the bodies of Vietnamese soldiers are buried have disappeared,” the committee’s deputy chief Chey Saphon said Thursday. “It is a problem for us.”
Chey Saphon was part of a delegation that traveled to Hanoi for a high-level meeting between the two countries in the last two weeks—during which methods to resume the search for Vietnamese remains in the upcoming dry season were discussed.
RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun, who led the Cambodian delegation to Hanoi, said that these difficulties would not put a halt to the search.
“The operation to find the remains of Vietnamese soldiers will, like the American one to find American remains, be a continuous one,” he said by telephone Thursday.
Vietnamese authorities estimate that as many as 22,000 Vietnamese soldiers were killed in action in Cambodia; among those, around 10,000 were killed or went missing between 1979 and 1989 while Cambodia was under Vietnamese supervision.
An agreement signed by Cambodia and Vietnam in May 2001 has made possible the search for Vietnamese-soldier remains, which is funded entirely by the Vietnamese government.
According to Vietnam’s Department of Defense data, the remains of 888 soldiers were exhumed and taken to Vietnam last dry season, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported Oct 24. More than 9,000 sets of remains have been found and repatriated since 2001, Chey Saphon added.
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung, who met with Pol Saroeun in Hanoi on Oct 23, said he was happy with the cooperation between the two countries in general and the two armies in particular on the matter, according to VNA.