First UNCCT-WHO joint training on radiological and nuclear hazards
The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the European Centre for Preparedness for Humanitarian and Health Emergencies of the World Health Organization (WHO) organized a first joint training for the Republic of Türkiye, in Ankara from 27 June to 1 July. The event benefited from the valuable contribution of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The training, which aimed at improving preparedness and response to radiological/nuclear accidents and terrorist attacks, gathered 30 representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Interior, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority as well as Provincial Health Directorates and City Hospitals.
In his welcoming remarks, the Head of the WHO Country Office said “We are conducting this training for Türkiye authorities led by one of the best and finest in the business – our new partner United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism […] we are also pleased to have IAEA, our technical partner in this area joining hands too”.
The Head of the UNCCT Unit on Preventing and Responding to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorism expressed hope that “the collaboration will bring concrete results and enhance the capabilities of the participating Turkish national entities”. “UNCCT is committed to assisting Member States in building their national capacities to prevent and respond to radiological and nuclear terrorism,” she added.
“Preparedness for radio-nuclear safety is very important. This course is a capability building activity, which is the objective of our center. With different stakeholders, across sectors, participating, this training helped us strengthen inter-sectoral coordination on one hand while approach and address radio-nuclear safety from different angles and perspectives, on the other. Built-in simulation exercise on the 4th day also provided opportunity for participants to put into practice and test the knowledge imparted,” the a.i. Head of Office of the European Centre for Preparedness for Humanitarian and Health Emergencies, WHO, emphasized in his closing remarks.
The Head of the Department of Disaster and Emergency Management, General Directorate of Emergency Health Services, Ministry of Health of Türkiye concluded that “During the training, we have seen that the subject has many components, especially health and national security. Therefore, a multi-sectoral approach should be adopted against this threat.”
The training covered different types of emergencies such as nuclear and radiological facilities protection, vulnerability assessment, material safety, security and transportation, on-site medical response, hospital preparedness and response, as well as mental health and psychosocial support in radiation emergency situations. Moreover, the participants also discussed biological and health effects of ionizing radiation, radiation detection and radiation monitoring methods.
With numerous confirmed cases related to illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials around the globe and increasingly strong linkages between organized crime and terrorism, nuclear and radiological materials trafficked by criminal groups, the risk of nuclear terrorist incident is of increasing concern.
UNCCT’s Programme on Preventing and Responding to WMD/CBRN Terrorism seeks to advance Member States and International Organizations’ understanding of the level of this threat. It also supports CBRN prevention, preparedness and response efforts at the request of Member States and International Organizations. Since February 2021, the Programme has conducted capacity building activities and increased the capabilities of Member States in targeted CBRN areas, reaching over 2,000 individuals.