UN: Bhutan has slightly increased its UN peacekeeping presence with another seven Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) officers being deployed to various UN peacekeeping missions.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay met with the seven officers on Thursday.

There are now 18 Bhutanese security forces personnel serving abroad in seven UN missions.

Major Sonam Tshering has been assigned to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) that maintains the ceasefire between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan.

Lt Tshering Namgyel and sergeant major Nima Yoezer, a non-commissioned officer, are assigned to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) that is consolidating peace and security in the newest country of the world.

Major Tharchen will be serving with the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The UN force monitors the border between Sudan and South Sudan, a flash point area, and has been authorised to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian aid workers.

Lt Colonels Wangchuk and Karma Thinley, and sergeant major Tshewang Jamtsho, another non-commissioned officer, are deployed to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The mission is tasked with supporting the political process in Mali and conducting security-related activities.

All seven of the RBA personnel will serve in a non-combatant role.

While Bhutan is expanding its role, there are no plans to deploy armed troops on large scale similar to Bangladesh, India or Nepal.

Bhutan began contributing to UN peacekeeping missions in September, last year.

By Gyalsten K Dorji