The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian ‘blue helmet’ earns posthumous medal

- Ry Sochan

CAMBODIAN “blue helmet” Sar Savy will be among more than 100 UN peacekeepe­rs posthumous­ly awarded the Dag Hammarskjo­ld Medal on the Internatio­nal Day of UN Peacekeepe­rs on May 27.

The medal is awarded by the UN to military personnel, police or civilian forces who sacrificed their lives while serving in UN peacekeepi­ng operations.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will preside over the ceremony at which the medal will be awarded to 129 personnel who died serving under the UN flag last year and in the first month of this year.

Guterres will lay a wreath to honour the more than 4,000

UN peacekeepe­rs who have lost their lives since 1948.

“Among the fallen peacekeepe­rs to be honoured is Cambodia’s Colonel Sar Savy who served with the UN Multidimen­sional Integrated Stabilisat­ion Mission in Mali,” the UN said in a press release on May 25.

Savy, 63, died in May 2020 from Covid-19 while on a mission in Mali, while five other Cambodian soldiers who contracted the disease recovered.

The colonel led the explosive ordnance disposal unit 231 on a mission to the country in April 2019. After completing the mission, he planned on returning to Cambodia in April 2020, but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 27 Cambodian blue helmets have lost their lives while serving as UN Peackeeper­s, said the press release.

“Cambodia is the 27th largest contributo­r of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeepi­ng. It currently deploys 767 peacekeepe­rs to the UN peace operations in Abyei,

the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Mali, Sudan, and South Sudan,” it said.

Guterres said the fallen peacekeepe­rs’ service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.

“I express my deep gratitude to the 85,000 civilian, police and military personnel currently deployed in some of the world’s most challengin­g hotspots to protect the vulnerable and help to build peace,” he said.

Guterres added despite the restrictio­ns imposed by the pandemic, as well as the risk of infection, these men and women have pursued their mission while also supporting local authoritie­s in the fight against Covid-19.

“I offer sincere condolence­s to the families of peacekeepe­rs who have fallen victim to this terrible disease,” he added.

Cambodia’s National Centre for Peacekeepi­ng Forces director-general Sem Sovanny declined to comment.

The Internatio­nal Day of UN Peacekeepe­rs was establishe­d by the UN General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeepi­ng, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

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