According to General Vinh, Vietnam has so far dispatched nearly 200 peacekeepers to the Central African Republic and South Sudan. These peacekeepers have met all U.N. requirements and been highly appreciated by U.N. leaders for their professional expertise, discipline observance, and capabilities.

Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh

The senior officer proudly said that Vietnam has the highest rate of female peacekeepers (over 10 percent) at U.N. missions and these officers have taken the same missions as male. He mentioned Major Nguyen Thi Minh Phuong who has been working as a military observer on the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and revealed that Vietnam is honored to host an international conference on the role of women in U.N. peacekeeping operations this year on request of the U.N. According to him, this is the recognition of Vietnamese female officers’ contributions to U.N. peacekeeping activities and emphasizes that Vietnam always highly values the role and ensure the rights of women.

The Deputy Defense Minister also highlighted Vietnamese peacekeepers’ fulfillment of all assignments and good behaviors that have left deep impression on both colleagues and local people and help popularize the image of Vietnam as well.

Regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the blue-beret force of Vietnam in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, General Vinh said that all personnel of the Level-2 Field Hospital Rotation 2 (L2FH Rotation 2) of Vietnam in Bentiu base of the UNMISS have been put on high alert and strictly observed preventive measures. They have also worked out scenarios of the disease outbreak, including a scenario of closing the hospital and withdrawing all personnel back home if the pandemic spreads widely and threatens their lives. These scenarios of course were consulted with U.N. senior officials.

The senior officer informed that the Ministry of National Defense has planned to provide the L2FH Rotation 2 with more medical equipment to help them cope with the pandemic and received daily updated information about their health while directing the Vietnam Military Medical University to organize video-training sessions to equip them with effective preventive measures.

He expressed his delight at Vietnamese peacekeepers’ activeness and pro-activeness in the disease prevention and control while facing the shortage of both personnel and medical equipment and at their effective support for U.N. peacekeeping missions in curbing the disease from spreading.

He recalled the good deed of Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Lien who had made over 400 face masks to present to the staff of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and local people. This won her a merit certificate from the MINUSCA leadership as the recognition of the Vietnamese blue beret force’s responsibility towards the community and contributions to the global pandemic preventive efforts.

Apart from diseases, other challenges facing the Vietnamese peacekeeping force in the time ahead include the professional expertise and capabilities to meet new mission requirements, the guarantee of good health conditions and safety for personnel and limited resources for training and management.

According to General Vinh, working in far-away countries in harsh weather conditions, complicated situations, and other difficulties, what a peacekeeper needs is a good command of foreign language, knowledge of international law, U.N. regulations, the host countries’ culture, peacekeeping expertise, and more.

Actually, Vietnam has engaged in U.N. peacekeeping operations for six years now. The country plans to maintain the presence of its L2FH in South Sudan in the time to come and is considering the U.N.’s request on maintaining this force for at least five years, depending on its conditions and policies. The country is also considering dispatching other forces, including police, guard, signal troops to U.N. peacekeeping missions, said General Vinh.

The Deputy Defense Minister also stressed that Vietnam also pays due attention to assigning officers to working in different positions in U.N. agencies in charge of making common rules on peace, such as policy-making, peacekeeping operation management, disarmament, at U.N. headquarters.

He mentioned Lieutenant Colonel Luong Truong Vinh from the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations who has been admitted to work as a military official at the U.N. Department of Peace Operations at New York-based U.N. Headquarters.

General Vinh emphasized that Vietnam will dispatch more officers to fill in U.N. military official vacancies at U.N. agencies and expressed his belief that more Vietnamese officers will take high positions in UNMISS, MINUSCA and other U.N. agencies in the future.

Stressing that participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations is in line with Vietnam’s policy of not getting engaged in disputes, military combat, and management over people, but maintaining peace, General Vinh said that the sending of Vietnamese peacekeepers to U.N. peacekeeping missions demonstrates the country’s responsibility towards the international community. It also aims to protect the Fatherland in peacetime to ensure the national interests, avoid conflicts and prevent wars. “Partaking in such operations, we can ask for our interests,” said General Vinh.

General Vinh said that in the near future, the task is even harder because Vietnam is a responsible partner of the international community as confirmed in the foreign policy of the Party and State of Vietnam. Therefore, Vietnam will not be able to stand apart from regional and global security and Vietnam will conduct more activities to realize that policy to protect its national interests.

Translated by Mai Huong