Mass gatherings, including sporting events, religious occasions, festivals, concerts and similar gatherings, bring people together from all over the world. Consequently, these events pose a risk of public health emergencies. With transportation options becoming more affordable and accessible, and businesses operating on a global scale, it is expected that more mass gatherings will occur. Additionally, greater numbers of nations will be hosting these events, and participants will be travelling from an increasingly large and distant number of countries. All these factors introduce new challenges to national and international health security.
In response to these challenges, the European Union’s (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative launched Project 87, titled “Preparedness and Response for Mass Gatherings and Other Health Threats in Central Asia (PRECA)”, which has been under implementation since 2021.
From 17-19 October 2023, the Regional Working Groups of the project, focusing on food safety, water safety, chemicals, command, control and communication, convened in Almaty for their regular face-to-face meeting. The primary aim of the meeting was to assess the progress achieved within the project, identify and address encountered challenges, and share lessons learned from a series of national trainings conducted by national trainers in their respective countries.
Additionally, participants engaged in strategic planning for upcoming initiatives in 2024. The groups also worked on finalizing regional guidance documents, aimed at enhancing the preparedness and response capabilities countries during mass gatherings.
EU CBRN CoE Project 87 “Preparedness and Response for Mass Gatherings and Other Health Threats in Central Asia (PRECA)” is a regional initiative aimed at strengthening response and preparedness for potential health threats arising from mass gathering in partner countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The PRECA project is funded by the European Union through its CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (EU CBRN CoE), and implemented by the International Science and Technology Center in close cooperation with national experts from Partner Countries, CoE National Focal Points in Central Asia, UNICRI, the CoE Regional Secretariat and the EU Delegations in the Participating Countries.
The EU CBRN CoE Initiative is a global Initiative funded and implemented by the European Union as part of its goal to promote peace, stability and conflict prevention.
The aim of the Initiative is to mitigate risks and strengthen an all-hazards security governance in Partner Countries of the EU following a voluntary and demand-driven approach. The EU support is provided to implement a wide range of CBRN risk mitigation activities including needs and risk assessments, national and regional action plans, capacity building activities, legal framework reviews, table top and real time (including cross-border) field exercises, inter-regional exchange of best practices and lessons learnt.
Funded and implemented through the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – Global Europe, the Initiative is led by the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), in close coordination with the European External Action Service (EEAS). The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) provides technical support to Partner Countries, while the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) ensures a coherent and effective national, regional and international cooperation. Other relevant International and/or Regional Organisations and experts also contribute to the Initiative, which represents the EU’s largest civilian external security programme. The Initiative involves 64 countries in eight regions across the world.