THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 21 August 2019 — First responders from twelve States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) expanded their emergency response and protection capabilities against chemical warfare agents during the Regional Basic Course on Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons for Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held in the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana from 13 – 17 August.
The course furnished emergency response agencies of ECOWAS countries with the knowledge, skills and abilities for conducting operations in the aftermath of a chemical weapon attack or incident involving toxic industrial chemicals.
Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana (MESTI), Hon Ms Patricia Appiagyei, MP, noted that there is a need “to establish active, well-trained emergency response teams and equip them with the requisite technical knowledge to identify chemical agents, to decontaminate affected areas and people exposed to chemical weapons, and also to be able to coordinate rescue operations”.
Senior Programme Officer from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Mr Shahriar Khateri, emphasised that such courses strengthen the ability of OPCW Member States to offer citizens protection in case of chemical emergencies. “We encourage all attendees to pass on their knowledge onto colleagues, and in this way augment the effect of the instruction received here,” he stressed.
During the training, the participants covered the following topics: the use of Swiss protective equipment; monitoring, measuring and detection of chemical agents; field procedures; sampling devices, and equipment maintenance.
Representatives of the following OPCW Member States from ECOWAS region attended the training: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’lvoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
The training was jointly organised by the OPCW and the Swiss Armed Forces’ Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Centre, and funded by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) is a regional centre of excellence where education, training and research concerning peace support operations (PSO) are delivered with the highest academic and professional standards.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 97% 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 Peace Prize.