273 troops deploying to South Sudan

273 troops deploying to South Sudan

Kitted out in blue helmets and UN peacekeeping shoulder flashes, the Thai army unit will leave on Saturday for South Sudan. (Photo Facebook/engineerdept)
Kitted out in blue helmets and UN peacekeeping shoulder flashes, the Thai army unit will leave on Saturday for South Sudan. (Photo Facebook/engineerdept)

Almost 300 troops will head overseas to join the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the troubled African country of South Sudan on Saturday, according to the Royal Thai Army.

Deputy army spokesman Col Sirichan Ngathong said the Thai contingent, known as Thai Horizontal Military Engineering Company (HMEC), comprises 273 soldiers who will be deployed for a one-year mission. The troops, mostly from the engineering corps, will participate mainly in the repair and rebuilding of public infrastructure such as roads and bridges connecting cities including Juba, Torit, and Yei.

Headed by Lt Col Burin Theerawattanawisit, the unit will also take part in peacekeeping operations. The soldiers have undergone necessary training for the mission including peacekeeping tactics and first aid procedures. She said the troops have also been educated about the principles of the "sufficiency economy" so they can share the knowledge with the people of South Sudan.

According to Col Sirichan, the army has also sent major equipment which, along with the forward command, has already arrived in South Sudan. Chief of Defence Forces Pornpipat Benyasri will preside over the ceremony to send the unit off Saturday at the Royal Thai Armed Forces HQ on Chaeng Watthana Road, she said.

The Thai HMEC contingent to South Sudan reflects the UN's confidence in the Thai military, which is proud to be part of international efforts in maintaining international peace and security, she said, adding that the army has continuously participated in UN peacekeeping and related missions in past decades.

In 2005, Thailand sent 175 soldiers, mostly engineers, to Burundi in the wake of the civil war there, and in 2003, 422 non-combatant troops were deployed in Iraq to help rebuild roads, other infrastructure and provide medical services.

The engineering company produced this 9-minute video to explain its organisation and mission.

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