OSCE, UN help Central Asian states prepare biological weapon responses


BISHKEK -- The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is holding a two-day workshop Wednesday-Thursday (June 26-27) in Bishkek aimed at improving the ability of Central Asian states in responding to the use of biological weapons, the OSCE said in a statement Wednesday (June 26).

The capacity building workshop entitled "Strengthening National, Sub-Regional and International Capacities to Prepare for and Respond to Deliberate Use of Biological Weapons" was organised by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)'s Implementation Support Unit of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in co-operation with the OSCE and the Kyrgyz Economy Ministry.

The event brought together 45 national delegates representing the public health, security and governmental sectors of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- the four Central Asian states that are parties to the BWC.

Specialists from UNODA, the OSCE, the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative, as well as from Russia and Belarus, participated.

During the active learning session, participants worked on a set of specific questions relevant to various preparedness elements for deliberate use of biological weapons in four thematic breakout groups: disease outbreak surveillance and epidemiology; education and awareness raising; cross-sectoral co-operation; and regional and international collaboration.

A table-top exercise encouraged participants to reflect upon decision-making mechanisms and procedures as well as conditions and circumstances that would lead to a nationwide emergency and measures that would ensue in such cases.

Participants prepared recommendations that will contribute to the BWC Meeting of Experts on Assistance, Response and Preparedness scheduled for August 6-7 in Geneva, Switzerland.

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