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UNICRI Conducted Training on Media Engagement and Tackling Disinformation During Mass Gatherings for Central Asia    

UNICRI Conducted Training on Media Engagement and Tackling Disinformation During Mass Gatherings for Central Asia   


Tashkent, Uzbekistan -


Tackling misinformation and disinformation in crisis situations that may occur during mass gathering events is paramount for ensuring public safety and maintaining trust in institutions. In such high-pressure scenarios, the spread of false information can exacerbate panic, hinder effective response efforts, and jeopardize public health. By addressing misinformation and disinformation promptly and effectively, authorities can mitigate the potential impact on public perception and ensure accurate information reaches those in need.

A comprehensive training on risk communication and media engagement in crisis situations that might evolve during mass gatherings was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 4–6 March 2024. Organized as part of the European Union (EU) Chemical, biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Centres of Excellence (CoE) Project 87 “Preparedness and Response to Mass Gatherings in Central Asia (PRECA),” the event aimed to equip participants with essential skills in risk communication, addressing disinformation and engaging with the media during mass gatherings. The training reached over 60 strategic communication officers and technical experts from relevant national agencies of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

During the high-level plenary opening session of the event on 5th March, Mr Bakhtiyor Gulyamov, Head of the EU CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for Central Asia, highlighted the importance and timeliness of the training: “As observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective communication is paramount in times of public health crises. It serves as the cornerstone of our collective efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities.”

The training featured a session on media engagement and an interactive tabletop exercise, both led by Ms Katy Carroll, an expert of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). The focus was on effectively responding to disinformation in crisis situations that might occur during mass gatherings. Through group exercises and simulated scenarios, participants gained insights into working with the media during crisis and addressing the challenges posed by disinformation. The participants collaboratively worked throughout the tabletop exercise, successfully identifying various forms of disinformation and gaining an understanding of the tactics used to spread false information. The training also imparted knowledge on key components of strategic response planning, encompassing fact-checking, information verification, public awareness campaigns, and collaboration with stakeholders. The exercise also promoted collaboration among a diverse array of stakeholders engaged in combating disinformation and fostering resource and expertise sharing. Furthermore, participants enhanced their skills and knowledge in debunking disinformation through training on new techniques and strategies. This was followed by an evaluation of existing response mechanisms and discussions on additional measures to strengthen resilience against disinformation.

The training, enthusiastically received by participants, underscored the importance of effective media engagement and proactive measures in countering disinformation. It emphasized the need for collaborative efforts, strategic planning and continuous capacity building to effectively address the evolving challenges posed by disinformation.


Background information:

The 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 stemming from mass gatherings in Partner Countries. These countries include 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 is implemented by the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) 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 (EU) 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, tabletop 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 Partner Countries in eight regions across the world.