THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 23 February 2017 — First responders from 15 Member States in Asia benefited from a basic course preparing them to handle emergency response to chemical incidents, run by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from 6-10 February 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The 5th regional training course upgraded the professional capabilities of 37 participants from various agencies involved in chemical emergency response and civil defence.
“In a world in which the use or threat of use of chemical weapons and the likelihood of chemical incidents loom ever larger, the OPCW assists its Member States to fortify their emergency preparedness. This course brings together first responders from a great number of countries, helping them to establish a professional vanguard to combat such threats,” stated Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, head of the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch, in his opening speech.
The first responders mastered the fundamentals of assistance and protection in the event of a chemical weapons incident. They practiced using protective equipment, monitoring, detection, and decontamination operations, and underwent drills in appropriate responses to incidents involving chemical weapons agents and toxic industrial chemicals.
The CBRN unit of the Sri Lankan army contributed to the course by demonstrating a decontamination operation for personnel and equipment in a contaminated area.
The graduates of this basic training will progress to an advanced course to be held in China in July 2017.
Representatives of the following States Parties attended the training: Bahrain, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, organised this course jointly with the OPCW.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
To date, 94 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.