Cambodian Peacekeeper succumbs to COVID-19 in Mali

The photo shows Cambodian peacekeepers in the Republic of Mali (Photo: Cambodian Peacekeeping Force Facebook Page)

He was part of a UN Peacekeeping mission in that country

PHNOM PENH--A Cambodian military officer who was part of the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping force in Mali has died due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019, a Cambodian spokesperson confirmed Saturday (May 30).

“Our peacekeeper Sar Savy, who has been serving in Mali under the UN umbrella, succumbed to the virus on Friday morning (local time) as his health condition had severely deteriorated over the past five days,” Phal Samon, spokesman for the Cambodian National Center for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines, and ERW Clearance said Saturday in a phone interview. 

Savy, who held the rank of major general, had served as a UN peacekeeper in charge of explosive ordnance disposal in 2016 and last year. 

“His mandate had actually ended and he was supposed to return home,” Samon said. But the peacekeeping force rotation had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he added. 

“We are greatly saddened over the passing of our colleague who has contributed so much to the peacekeeping operations in foreign countries,” Samon said.  

On Saturday, the UN Secretary General announced the passing of Savy and another peacekeeper in Mali during a ceremony marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. The second peacekeeper to die of COVID-19 was from El Salvador, according to Associated Press.

There currently are 298 Cambodian peacekeepers in Mali who are divided into engineering and demining units, Samon said. 

“Seven of our peacekeepers—including one woman—have so far tested positive for the coronavirus,” he said. “Two of them have made a complete recovery. Three others are getting better, and one is waiting to be tested again to confirm [whether he has been infected with] the virus.”

Savy is the first Cambodian to die due to COVID-19.

Over 6,500 Cambodian peacekeepers including 338 women have been deployed since 2006. They have joined UN peacekeeping operations in nine war-torn countries, mainly on the African continent.

Lay Sopheavatey contributed to the story

 


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