Cambodian young man looks for his Algerian father

Kol Said Dona holds the only two photos he has from his Algerian father, Chaffai  Said, a former UNTAC policeman. Now he is looking for him after 18 years without news.

Kol Said Dona holds the only two photos he has from his Algerian father, Chaffai Said, a former UNTAC policeman. Now he is looking for him after 18 years without news.

Kol Said Dona, 18, is a Cambodian student of journalism at Don Bosco Kep. His mother, Kol Syvong,  36, works as a farmer in Kompong Trach District, Kampot Province. He was born on 18 February 1994, one year after the United Nations Transition Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) finished its mandate. It was the first time that UN established a direct administration on an independent State. It came from the Paris Peace Accords of October 1991 where UNTAC became the government from 1992  to 1993 with the mission to prepare democratic elections. It included 15,900 military, 3,600 civilian policemen, 2,000 civilians and 450 UN volunteers from 33 nations.

Chaffai Said came from Algeria with the UNTAC forces to help in the democratic transition in Cambodia 1992-1993. After fathering a child in Kampot, he went to his country. Now his son is looking for him.

Chaffai Said came from Algeria with the UNTAC forces to help in the democratic transition in Cambodia 1992-1993. After fathering a child in Kampot, he went to his country. Now his son is looking for him.

Among the 3,600 civilian foreign policemen there was an Algerian, Chaffai Said, who was assigned to the police department at Kompung Track District in Kampot Province. In that place he knew Kol Syvong, who was by then 18 years old. Said married the Cambodian girl and fathered a child that was born on 18 February 1994: Kol Said Dona. Said seemed to establish himself in the country, although the UNTAC government ended.

Six months after the birth of Kol Said Dona, on 18 August 1994, there was a strong earthquake in Algeria. It was considered one of the strongest earthquakes in the country affecting the Mascara region. The natural disaster began at 02:13 local time with epicenter at the Beni Choughrane Mountains, 350 kms SE of Algiers. The Terra Motae Magazine reported that 171 people were killed, 654 injured, 1,328 families lost their houses and ten schools were destroyed.

Courtesy by Terra Motae.

Courtesy by Terra Motae.

The natural disaster, 10,282 kilometers far from the Kampot Province, would cause a long term victim: a Cambodian boy would lost his father.

The news of the Algerian disaster moved Chaffai Said to go back to his country to look for his family. He promised to his wife he would return. After 18 years of his departure, there are not news about him.

A farmer girl without enough resources like Kol Syvong could do much to look for her husband. She says:

‘Information about Chaffai Said: He was an UNTAC policeman that helped in the organization of the 1993′s elections in Cambodia, at the Kompung Trach District, Kampot Province. Said came at the Kompung Trach District at the middle of December 1992 and he went back in March 1993. I have his address as Chaffai Said, Rue 5 Juillet Talkhempt, Par Merouana (Batna), Algeria. Chy My is a person who works at the Department of Information in Pailin Province. Chy My was the main assistant of Said during the 1993 elections.’

Chaffai Said, right, as a UNTAC policeman in Kompung Traich District about 1993.

Chaffai Said, right, as a UNTAC policeman in Kompung Traich District about 1993.

Kol Said Dona, now a young man with the dream to become a reporter in his own country, is getting interest in his father. He thinks that a man needs to know his origins. ‘I hope to see my father back to Cambodia and to meet him,‘ he said. ‘When he went to his country, he promised to my mother he would be back in two months, but it was not true. Now he is not here and I don´t know him.’ Kol Said Dona says that all information about his father should be with Mr. Chy My, but there is not answer from this person too.

If you have any information about former UNTAC policeman Chaffai Said from Algeria, please contact this blog or the email of his son Kol Said Dona (kolsaiddona@gmail.com).

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