About the Fourth Reference Group Meeting on CBRN Emergency Preparedness

In November 2011, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) adopted a resolution on “preparedness to respond to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear accidents” at the 18th General Assembly. This was after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident (Fukushima Daiichi accident) which occurred in March 2011. Following the resolution, the reference group meeting was established by Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC) Societies which are related to response to nuclear and radiological emergencies. The past meeting venues were in Vienna (1st), Geneva (2nd) and Fukushima (3rd). During these meetings, the group member National Societies shared their knowledge and findings. Through this process, the Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Guidelines (IFRC Guidelines) were developed.

The meeting in Berlin was joined by about 30 participants from 15 RCRC Societies, the IFRC, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and the German government. The final draft of the IFRC Guidelines was confirmed at this meeting. Furthermore, the group member National Societies reconfirmed the necessity for the Red Cross’s expanding the response scope to threats from biological and chemical substances following the recent virus disease outbreak and other disasters. The capabilities and training content of the National Societies to respond to such threats were also shared.

The IFRC’s preparedness and response to CBRN emergencies will be shared at a side event of the IFRC General Assembly in December 2015 with participants in the General Assembly to come from around the world.

For the action points of the IFRC and the National Societies agreed at the fourth meeting, please click on the link below.

Overview of the meeting

Date: September 7 – 11, 2015
Venue: National Society Headquarters of German Red Cross in Berlin, Germany
Organizers: IFRC and German Red Cross

Meeting discussions

The final draft of the IFRC Guidelines which were developed based on the discussions at the previous meeting in Fukushima was confirmed. Reports were also presented on the survey results regarding CBRN response capabilities of RCRC societies, support tools that the IFRC and the group member National Societies have worked on, and best practices regarding CBRN response.

At the fourth meeting, the recognition of the Red Cross’s necessity for expanding the response scope to threats from biological and chemical substances was reconfirmed following the Ebola outbreak in West African nations and the chemical explosions in China. The sharing of each National Society’s capabilities and training content to respond to such threats was also focused on. In addition, the outline of the reviewed Chernobyl Humanitarian Assistance and Rehabilitation Programme (CHARP) was reported at the meeting. The IFRC provided the program for the last 23 years which was reviewed this year.

Tour of German Red Cross Logistics Center

At the German Red Cross Logistics Center, the meeting participants were guided to the CBRN decontamination unit and provided explanations of how the responders put on and took off protective gear when the German Red Cross responded to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the considerations in putting on/off the gear.