Comoros Customs improves its preparedness to tackle disasters with the support of the COVID-19 Project

17 January 2023

On 11 and 12 January, the WCO COVID-19 Project, financially supported by the Government of Japan, held an online workshop to assist Comoros Customs in ensuring business continuity and in improving its response to emergencies by building its border operations resiliency in the event of disruptions. The workshop provided insight on the work carried out by the WCO relevant to disaster relief, and prepared participants on the use of simulation exercises (SimEx).

The workshop was opened by Comoros Director General, Moustoifa Hassani Mohamed, who warmly thanked the WCO and the Government of Japan for their assistance and underlined the critical role played by Customs in ensuring the safety and security of citizens and in supporting the population when affected by disasters. The audience, mainly composed of Customs staff, appreciated the timing of the event, considering that, on 9 March 2022, the Union of Comoros officially acceded to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention - RKC), an instrument containing essential provisions for the management of relief consignments during emergency situations.

The first day of the workshop focused on WCO and international instruments and tools relevant to disaster relief, such as Chapter 5, Specific Annex J of the Revised Kyoto Convention, Annex B9 of the Istanbul Convention, the 2011 WCO Council Resolution and the WCO Guidelines on disaster management and supply chain continuity. WCO experts also emphasized the importance of cooperation with other government agencies and stakeholders in order to ensure the smooth running of humanitarian operations. 

The second day of the initiative dealt with testing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) drafted during a previous national workshop organized by the COVID-19 Project in January 2022. Participants were divided into three working groups representing Customs, other government agencies and humanitarian actors. They were confronted with a fictional scenario comprising a series of disruptive situations to be tackled by making use of existing emergency plans and procedures. Training on designing, setting up and running simulation exercises was also provided.

Thanks to this capacity-building activity, Comoros Customs will be better equipped to review emergency response procedures, to improve the ability of its staff to operate in the event of natural disasters, infectious diseases and other unexpected circumstances and to make progress in the implementation of disaster preparedness mechanisms.  

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