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* International training session on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents begins in Sri Lanka
Mon, Feb 6, 2017, 11:44 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 06, Colombo: As Sri Lanka marks ten years of implementation of Chemical Weapons Convention provisions, an International training session on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents commenced today for the first time in Sri Lanka.

The Fifth Regional Basic Training Course on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents will take place from 6 to 10 February 2017 in Colombo with the officials from The Hague's Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) conducting the training.

Speaking at the inauguration of the event, Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen noted that this year Sri Lanka is completing ten years of implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention since its ratification through an act of parliament in 2007.

"This is a special honor for all of us here to take part in this pioneering international training session in Colombo today. I am pleased to say that this event is taking place as we mark a significant milestone in our national chemical program," said Minister Bathiudeen.

The Minister said Sri Lanka now has a proper system of implementing the convention through the national authority established under his Ministry.

Thanking the OPCW for its continued support extended to Sri Lanka in the formulation and implementation process of the Chemical Weapons convention, the Minister pointed out that most of the countries in Asia region do not have the knowledge and skills on response to chemical incidents.

"The countries are meeting here today in a background of a global shift in use - in that the production of industrial chemicals has been shifting to the developing world. South Asian countries becoming a key player in this sector due to heavy chemical use by them. I am pleased of the good representation of state parties in Asia at this workshop," the Minister said.

"OPCW provides information on the Chemical Weapons Convention and monitors compliance among the states parties that have ratified the treaty," said Head of Assistance and Protection Branch of the OPCW Shawn DeCaluwe. He added that for the first time the Hague office is engaged in field operations in Syria as well.

Joining Minister Bathiudeen at the event were Head of Assistance and Protection Branch of the OPCW Shawn DeCaluwe with his OPCW experts, chemical experts from the tri-forces of Sri Lanka, Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthana Lokuhetti.

The course, jointly organized by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Technical Secretariat of OPCW is related to capacity-building for national and regional emergency response within the framework of Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The course will provide training for up to 20 participants in planning and building a support team for civil protection, civil defense, and decontamination operations in contaminated areas, as well as in appropriate responses and countermeasures in the event of incidents involving chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals.

It will also give an overview of what kind of assistance the OPCW, the host country, and Member States in Asia can provide, and will assist participating Member States in establishing a basic capability in protection from chemical weapons, which will directly benefit their civilian populations.

Representatives from India, China, Bahrain, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Korea, Philippines, Mongolia, Myanmar, Maldives, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and Sri Lanka are participating in the training session.

The chemical training session currently taking place in Colombo is the fifth such session conducted so far by the OPCW and the first ever to be held in Sri Lanka.


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