24-25 April 2019.
The 24th and 25th April saw the launching of the Sectrans_NAS project in the Tunisian capital. Backed by the EU Centers of Excellence programme, the project seeks to strengthen safety and security procedures where the transport of chemical and biological materials in North Africa and the Sahel region are concerned
The ceremony was inaugurated by Mr. El Hadj Lamine, Centers of Excellence regional office director for north Africa and the Sahel, with additional addresses from Mrs. Ilaria Mussetti, Tunisian national focal point; Lassaad Bechoual, international cooperation director at the customs general directorate; Imen Bahlous, customs colonel and Ms Ana Hernandez, representing the implementing consortium.
Following the warm words of welcoming, both Mr. El Hadj Lamine and Ms. Ilaria Mussetti emphasized how important it is to implement successfully this project given the increase of hazardous materials’ related incidents and accidents in the region.
Project team leader, Mr Pablo Taboada, then gave a brief overview of the project and introduced contributing experts and the web page to the audience. The floor was then taken by partner country focal points and representatives who went through, in turn, the current situation their countries found themselves in, specific problems they are facing and expectations they hope the project will deliver to remediate such issues.
The day following the opening ceremony, work groups defined by the consortium set about discussing issues raised during the presentation phase at greater length. The aim of this was to adapt the project as best as possible to the idiosyncratic circumstances of those countries participating.
Emerging from these exchanges, consensus was reached that strengthening regional cooperation is a priori and that those running the project should be flexible in their approach to interpreting the terms of reference. This is so as to optimise the probability of individual country circumstances being met so national hazardous materials transport capabilities can be strengthened through regulation, legislation and other means.
The meeting also opened the way to slating in dates for upcoming fact finding missions in each country over the next 5 months. The first mission is scheduled for June in Algeria
The funding for CoE projects comes from the EU Instrument Contributing to Security and Peace (IcSP) and is implemented in co-operation with the United Nations Interregional Research on crime and justice Institute (UNICRI). The initiative is set up with the technical support of relevant international and regional organizations as well as EU member countries and other relevant stakeholders through a coherent approach to promote efficient and effective cooperation at national level, regional and international. The initiative has seventy-one countries in eight regions of the world and is the largest external civil security program in the EU.
– Project website: https://www.sectrans-nas.eu
– CBRN Centres of Excellence website: http://www.cbrn-coe.eu
– The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) website: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sectors/human-rights-and-governance/peace-and-security/instrument-contributing-stability-and-peace_en