On the 12th of April 2021, Koya University, in cooperation with CBRN Academy, held the first virtual international workshop on CBRN and HAZMAT safety and security for universities and academic centres in Kurdistan Region. The main aim of this workshop was to encourage stakeholders and attendees to present and recommend effective safety and security solutions, systems, and procedures for the Universities and Research Centers in Northern Iraq. The overarching objective is to prevent or reduce the opportunity of CBRN/HAZMAT materials and laboratory equipment from falling into the wrong hands and potentially being weaponised by criminal groups.
The workshop began with opening speeches by Assist. Prof. Dr Mohammed H.S. Zangana (Dean of Faculty of Engineering), Prof. Dr Wali M. Hamad ( Koya University President), followed by a speech from the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the KRG that presented by Dr Mohammed Hussein Ahmed (General Director of Quality Assurance at the Ministry of Higher Education, KRG) showing full support from the Ministry for such activities at the universities in the region.
CBRN Academy supported the workshop by planning and preparing the aims and objectives with the Koya University and the Ministry of Higher Education. During the preparation stage of this workshop, CBRN Academy provided advice and guidance, communicating with international speakers from different institutes and organisations worldwide.
Matt Coburn, a former UK senior police officer, Army officer, and course/writer designer from the CBRN Academy, participated as a key speaker during the workshop itself. His presentation on ‘Security by Design’ was well received by the delegates as it was particularly pertinent to the workshop’s objectives. His presentation focused on practical steps and methodologies to tackle such security and safety problems to enable the continued legitimate use of such hazardous materials and equipment in Universities for academic purposes.
During the preparations for the workshop, CBRN Academy facilitated the introduction of best practice solutions from the international community and national academic institutes in Iraq. The workshop highlighted how other international educational institutes had successfully approached such problems and how they had applied such resolutions in other countries. The Academy coordinated with speakers from the University of Rome Tor Vergata to participate in the Koya University workshop to share their CBRN and HazMat security management systems in the Italian universities. Dr. Gian Marco Ludovici demonstrated the CBRN Italian Emergency System and its primary function in critical events. At the same time, Dr Nicola Simone provided a presentation about CBRNe vulnerability assessments relating to Universities and public places. Both speakers were from the Department of Industrial Engineering and the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.
The team at CBRN Academy also facilitated speakers from the Iraqi Ministry of Higher education to contribute to solutions at the workshop. Professor Aws Al-Rahhal, the Head of the CBRN Ministerial Team at the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Development Department, Iraq, provided a presentation. His presentation focused on the Regulation of Chemical/Biological Hazardous and Materials in Iraqi Universities. Prof. Falah Hussein, the Head of the CBRN Central Committee at The University of Babylon, also provided an interesting presentation on CBRN Safety and Security in and by Universities.
Stakeholders from the Ministry of Peshmerga and Ministry of Interior KRG gave speeches in the opening workshop. Colonel Amwal Bakr, the Head of the CBRN Team from the Peshmerga Ministry, talked about the roles of the CBRN team during the war against ISIS. Colonel Rmadhan Jalaby, the Head of the CBRN Team from the Ministry of Interior, talked about the role of the CBRN Team with such challenges.
CBRN Academy obtained the involvement of experts from the US Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction, International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau. During several meetings with the program advisors from the Bureau, we discussed future options concerning the post-workshop phase of this project to support the recommendations of this workshop. Necessary negotiations have been made between key stakeholders and the CBRN Academy to establish the CBRN/Hazmat safety and security management model in Kurdistan Region.
The Executive Director of CBRN Academy, Mike Lynch, and Ms Srwa Khaleel were members of the recommendation committee. They provided several recommendations to the senior management team at Koya University for the next phase of the plan, for example:
- Establishing CBRN and Hazmat security and safety systems and procedures in universities, academic institutes, and research centres in Northern Iraq to monitor and secure CBRN/HAZMAT substances.
- Consider the benefits of implementing external auditing processes of the region’s premises, equipment, and materials.
- Create a database for such materials and equipment.
- Select and conduct a case study concerning Koya University to employ a CBRN/HazMat management program.
- Create a CBRN Central Committee in the Ministry of Higher Education to supervise CBRN subcommittees in the universities and academic centres.
- Coordinate and collaborate with the Government security sector: The Ministry of Peshmerga Ministry and Interior ministry.
- Train and educate academic staff about emergency preparedness concerning CBRN/HAZMAT materials and laboratory equipment.
- Coordinate with international organisations to obtain assistance to embed CBRN/HAZMAT safety and security approaches in all Universities in the Kurdistan Region.
The attendees at the virtual workshop were from all universities and academic centres in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. International guests also attended worldwide from military, academic and industrial sectors.
CBRN Academy looks forward to supporting the academic institutes and international stakeholders to develop the recommendations from the workshop on the 12th of April 2021 and also look forward to taking part in Iraq’s 6th international CBRN safety and security conference this year.
As CBRN Academy moves forward through 2021, they plan to collaborate with the Heads of the CBRN teams in the Ministry of Interior for Iraq and Peshmerga to improve their capability and capacity to manage critical CBRN events in the country.