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Vietnamese doctors leave for South Sudan on first UN peacekeeping mission

Thirty Vietnamese army medical personnel left for South Sudan Monday morning aboard an Australian airforce plane.

Following a memorandum signed between Head of Vietnam’s Permanent Delegation to the United Nations, Dang Dinh Quy, and U.N. Under Secretary General for Field Support, Atul Khare, at the U.N. headquarters in New York last week, Vietnam will send 63 military doctors and medical equipment to South Sudan. On Monday morning, the first group of 30 Vietnamese military doctors left for the trip from Ho Chi Minh City. This is the first time Vietnam is sending military doctors as part of U.N. peacekeeping forces.

“Being here today is a great honor for me. After four years of training, I’m ready for my duty. This is all for my country and my family,” said doctor Sa Minh Ngoc. Among the 63 doctors leaving this time are 10 women.

Officer Chu Duc Hiep with his 7-year-old daughter. “It is going to be a hard time for my wife as she has to take care of the kids all by herself. But I am only leaving for a while, and will return soon,” Hiep said.

Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh hands over the decision to send 30 doctors to the field hospital in South Sudan, signed by late President Tran Dai Quang in July. He demanded these doctors to prove their qualities to national peers.

The 30 Vietnamese military doctors march in line to the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III of the Royal Australian Air Force that will take them to South Sudan.

The aircraft arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC on Sunday afternoon.

It has a loading capacity at more than 77 tons and a cruising speed of 829 kilometers per hour.

Vietnamese and Australian forces loaded military equipment on the plane. Most of the 63 Vietnamese doctors are from the HCMC-based Military Hospital 175, and they will take over a U.N. field hospital belonging to the U.K. in South Sudan.

An Australian officer stood guard near the aircraft on Sunday afternoon.

Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh checked the military equipment. He hailed the support provided by the Australian air force.

Vietnam has enlarged its role in U.N. peacekeeping and is taking part in more operations in Africa. As of June 20 Vietnamese officers were in U.N. peacekeeping operations in Central Africa and South Sudan.

The country is also actively campaigning to become a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council for the 2020-21 term.

Asia-Pacific nations had agreed last May to nominate Vietnam to this position. Vietnam will face a vote next June.

If elected, it will be the second time Vietnam will be on the Security Council after being on it once earlier in 2008-2009.