THE HAGUE, Netherlands—11 December 2020—First responders from North Africa and the Sahel increased their skills in handling emergencies involving chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals during an online basic course held from 7 to 10 December. The course was run jointly by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Moroccan Regional Training Centre for the North Africa and Sahel Region.
The Head of the Division for Global Security and Social Issues in Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Mustapha El Alami El Fellousse, underscored: “This training reinforces operational cooperation and response capacity in the region. Morocco will continue collaborating in both regional and global arenas to achieve full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
OPCW’s Special Advisor on Assistance and Protection, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, emphasised that the Organisation, through such capacity building activities, is working to strengthen the ability of Member States to protect their citizens in case of chemical emergencies. He added: “This course will also help to forge closer ties among the regional chemical emergency response experts.”
The training focused on responses during and after incidents involving chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals. The topics covered included the use of protective equipment and sampling devices, as well as monitoring, detection, and decontamination operations in contaminated areas. Participants also discussed ways to improve regional cooperation, exchanged information and experiences regarding implementation of Article X of the Convention on assistance and protection, and learned about the support provided by the OPCW to its Member States under that Article.
Sixty-four representatives from the following eight OPCW Member States attended the training: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, the Sudan, and Tunisia.
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 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.