Within the framework of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centres of Excellence (EU CBRN CoE) Initiative, UNICRI, in collaboration with Lebanon and several international partners, have been working on organizing a new interagency field exercise to tackle CBRN terrorism. The exercise, known as ARZ 2023, is scheduled to take place in Beirut, Lebanon, from 23-26 October 2023.
The exercise scenarios of ARZ 2023, are complex and will require a high level of coordination among numerous national authorities responsible for responding to CBRN risks. These authorities include the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Civil Defence, the Red Cross, the Internal Security Forces, the Presidential Guard, the Governmental Guard, the Beirut Fire Fighters and the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission. All these institutions are coordinated by the CBRN National Coordinator, an institution that benefits from the direct support of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
The scenarios are designed by Lebanese CBRN experts to test and validate the capabilities built in the field of CBRN risk mitigation, as well as to identify any potential gaps and plan future capability-building activities.
Despite the numerous challenges that Lebanon has faced during the past year including, the explosion at the Port of Beirut, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the political and financial crisis, the Lebanese authorities have demonstrated a commendable commitment to planning this new field exercise.
The international partners supporting the ARZ 2023 field exercise, coordinated by UNICRI, include the European Commission and the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) and experts from Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Belgium, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) School Oberammergau, Fondazione SAFE and Agriconsulting Europe S.A.(AESA). Their involvement underscores the strong support and commitment of Lebanon’s international partners in building a safer future for the country and the entire Middle East region.
To ensure effective coordination and preparation for ARZ 2023, planning meetings were held on 24 May, 6 and 7 July. These meetings provided a platform for fruitful discussion and collaboration among the participating entities.