Thai soldiers return from Sudanese peacekeeping mission


BANGKOK, June 5 — The first batch of 220 Thai soldiers returned home today after completing their nine-month peacekeeping mission with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

This was the second contingent of Thai troops deployed in Sudan after the first returned to Thailand last August.

Gen Sirichai Disakul, army chief-of-staff, presided over a ceremony to welcome back the first batch of 220 soldiers from Thai-Darfur Task Force 980 from Sudan.

The group led by Col Thakoon Chaoraingern from the Logistics Department of the Thai-Darfur Task Force 980 will undergo blood testing before returning home.

Gen Siricha thanked the troops who carried out their duties effectively and were praised by the United Nations and local residents.

More soldiers will gradually travel home today through Friday on four commercial flights after completing their nine month mission.

The second contingent, with 812 soldiers from the Thai armed forces went to Sudan on Aug 19, 2011. The shift was led by Col Narongrit Panikabutr.

Thailand’s participation in UNAMID follows the government’s policy to support the UN in maintaining international peace and security and to do its utmost to help alleviate the plight of fellow human beings, as Thailand is a responsible member of the international community, the general said.

Established in July 2007 by the United Nations Security Council, UNAMID was mandated to protect civilians, provide security for humanitarian assistance, monitor and verify implementing peace agreements, assist in the inclusive political process, and contributing to promoting human rights and the rule of law.

With UNAMID, the Thai troops were tasked with conducting patrols, providing protection to civilians, UN facilities, convoys and UN and other humanitarian workers, as well as providing medical services. Their assignments complemented the peace process in Darfur.