OPCW assists five IGAD countries to enhance chemical emergency preparedness

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) co-organised a training course for first responders of five of the eight Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries, in collaboration with the Republic of Sudan. The course was held in Khartoum, Sudan, from 25 to 29 July 2022. The objective of the course was to enhance the chemical emergency management capabilities of the IGAD Member States.

Experts from the OPCW provided first responders with the knowledge and skills to act in the event of a chemical attack or incident involving toxic chemicals, with a focus on the use of protective equipment, and the fundamentals of chemical warfare agents. Participants were also briefed on conducting sampling and analysis in contaminated areas, chemical detection, and establishing an incident command and control system.

Set-up of a mock decontamination station.

Set-up of a mock decontamination station.

In his opening remarks, Mr Khalid Mohamed, Head of the Department of International Organisations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Sudan, emphasised the commitment of Sudan to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and welcomed the knowledge and skills gained to strengthen national and regional preparedness to deal with incidents involving toxic chemicals.

The course was facilitated through the OPCW’s Instructor Exchange and Development Programme and the Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention. It was conducted under Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention (Assistance and Protection Against Chemical Weapons) and was delivered by OPCW experts and instructors from Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.

The training was attended by 26 representatives from five OPCW Member States: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda, and received financial support from the European Union.

Exiting a mock decontamination station.

Exiting a mock decontamination station.

Background

Under Article X of the CWC, Member States “have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, material and scientific and technological information concerning means of protection against chemical weapons.”

The Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention – known as the Africa Programme – focuses on the needs of OPCW Member States on the continent, including the promotion of uses of chemistry for peaceful purposes to support a safe and secure Africa.

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 99% 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.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa was created in 1996 and has eight member states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda. Its mission is to assist and complement the efforts of its member states in areas of peace, security, agriculture, environment, economic cooperation, and social development.

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