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The WCO COVID-19 Project supports Comoros Customs in fostering its preparedness to tackle disruptive events

24 enero 2022

From 17 to 21 January 2022, the WCO COVID-19 Project held an in-person workshop for Comoros Customs to improve its ability to manage the risks stemming from natural disasters and other disruptive events. This capacity-building activity, organized thanks to the generous financial support of the Government of Japan, allowed Comoros Customs to set up a plan and to move towards improved disaster management, in accordance with the undertaking of the WCO to provide Small Islands Economies with tailor-made policy and technical assistance.

The meeting took place in the city of Moroni and brought together more than 50 participants, including representatives of the Customs administration, other border authorities, ministries and national agencies involved in disaster management, International Organizations, the humanitarian sector and other stakeholders. During the five-day initiative, participants became more familiar with the WCO and other International Organizations’ instruments and tools for disaster relief, with particular attention given to the clearance of relief consignments at import, export and transit. Considering the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agenda gave ample space to the recently released WCO tools on the facilitation of vaccines and to the “WCO Guidelines for disaster management and supply chain continuity.”

On behalf of the Government of Comoros, during the opening ceremony the Ministry of Finance representative, Mr. Kamaliduni Souef, commended the organization of the workshop and underlined its importance at a time when the country is not only fighting against COVID-19, but also recovering from the devastation caused by cyclone Kenneth, that hit the island in 2017. Other government representatives, such as the Ministers of Internal Affairs, Justice and Health, and the advisor to Comoros’ President, showed their strong support to the activity, including by attending the opening and closing ceremonies.

The workshop was designed to allow a fruitful exchange of experience between participants and with panelists and, during the following sessions, the WCO and partner International Organizations’ experts assisted the audience in reviewing the national legislative framework in the light of current international standards and in drafting Standard Operating Procedures to manage the clearance of relief goods efficiently and effectively. Working groups composed of different stakeholders analyzed existing Customs procedures relating to different categories of high priority relief goods and equipment and made recommendations for their improvement and simplification.

This national workshop allowed the analysis of the steps required to strengthen the preparedness of Comoros and better facilitate and treat relief shipments in case of future disasters, the fostering of the overall coordination with the stakeholders involved in emergency operations and the identification of the additional assistance the national Customs administration would welcome from the WCO to accomplish these progress, including through the organization of a simulation exercise in the coming months.