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Comoros Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Incumbent President Azali Assoumani, elected in 2016, was returned to power in March 2019 in a controversial presidential election which followed a constitutional amendment referendum enabling him to contest two further five-year terms. Authoritarian rule to prevent dissent is likely, already indicated by Assoumani’s arrest of key opposition leaders ahead of the poll. Ongoing violent protests are likely, although security forces will disperse demonstrations robustly, including the use of live ammunition. Three alleged militants were killed by the army in post-election violence. Protests are likely to create cargo disruption at the key ports in Moroni and Mutsamudu.Presidential rotation between Comoros’ three islands was scrapped under the new constitution, with power likely to remain on Grande-Comore until 2029. This is likely to renew secessionist attempts on the other islands of Anjouan and Mohéli where support for the main opposition Juwa party is strong, particularly if reinforced by other opposition parties, backed by the military. This increases the likelihood of a military coup during Assoumani’s current tenure. About 20 coups or attempted coups have occurred since Comoros’ independence from France in 1975. Comoros’ GDP growth rate is unlikely to show significant near-term improvement: IHS Markit forecasts it will average 2.8% in 2019, unchanged from 2018. Near-term growth prospects continue to be deterred by the under-execution of public-sector investment programs owing to a fragile fiscal situation, severe infrastructural bottlenecks, and inadequate electricity supply. The economy should benefit from resilient remittances inflows and high exports as international vanilla prices remain elevated.Comoros faces heavy development needs for social and infrastructure projects. However, progress with such projects, and the country’s overall solvency rely on access to donor grants and concessional lending, which in turn impose requirements for fiscal prudence.
Last update: April 25, 2019

Operational Outlook

Comoros has an under-skilled but militant workforce, although Saudi-financed road-building is improving an inadequate transport infrastructure. Persistent fuel and power shortages occur, while general strikes over energy and infrastructure failings and public-sector strikes over pay are likely to continue. Endemic bribery is exacerbated by competition for illicit payments between national and island administrators. Protests and increased coup risk following the July 2018 constitutional referendum and President Assoumani's disputed election victory in March 2019 are likely to create an unstable operating environment. In August 2018, ex-president Sambi was charged with embezzling public funds from a scheme selling passports, mostly intended for stateless Gulf-based individuals, charges that he denies.

Last update: May 10, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

Approximately 170 passports supplied by a Belgian company were cancelled in January 2018, with the government stating they had been improperly issued to foreigners, mainly Iranian-born. It is not clear whether there were any links to terrorist activities or rather the avoidance of sanctions and travel restrictions. Despite the islands' strongly Muslim identity, there is little sign or intention of the Islamic State gaining a foothold. In August 2018, eight "terrorist" suspects were arrested for allegedly planning a coup. Secessionist and coup risks have increased since the abolition of the islands' rotating presidency.

Last update: September 30, 2018

Crime

Crime risks are rising in urban areas and tourist centres. Visitors are at greatest risk of carjacking, home break-ins or robbery, although this is unlikely to be accompanied by serious violence. Petty crime, including pickpocketing, is common in crowded markets and other public spaces. During periods of political instability, which are becoming more frequent after controversial electoral changes, crime rates are more likely to increase due to the distraction of security forces. Poorly resourced, paid and motivated, security forces do not have the ability to curb the crime rates significantly.

Last update: May 10, 2019

War Risks

Civil war risks are likely to gradually decline as President Azali Assoumani has retained the loyalty of the armed forces, while he first changed the constitution in July 2018 and then engineered a disputed re-election in March 2019. The suppression of an anti-government movement on Anjouan in October 2018 underlines civilian powerlessness if the armed forces stay behind Assoumani. However, risks will remain high, particularly on Anjouan and Mohéli, as the referendum means power is likely to stay centred long-term on Grande Comore. The previous constitution had ensured rotation of the presidency between the three islands every five years and been credited with reducing civil war and coup risks.

Last update: May 10, 2019

Social Stability

High

Protest risks have risen due to political polarisation, exacerbated by the executive struggling to check inflation, provide basic utilities and pay civil servants. However, protest risks are likely to decline from high levels following President Assoumani's election victory in March 2019 as frequent previous demonstrations failed to disrupt his plans or provoke insurrections supported by at least part of the security services. Further protests are likely to centre on additional repressive measures or unpopular policies announced by the government. However, they are likely to be sparsely attended, given ample evidence of the executive's willingness to use violence and single out opposition leaders and civil society activists to face spurious criminal charges.

Last update: May 10, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccines Required to Enter the Country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Travelers to the country should be aware that tropical cyclones can strike between November and May. The islands are located in an active seismic and volcanic zone; Mount Karthala is an active volcano on Grande Comore that erupted most recently in 2007.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated
Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Foreign visitors should be aware that tourist infrastructure is limited, telecommunication systems are not very reliable, and power outages and water cuts are common.

European governments advise against flying with the domestic airline Comores Air Services due to poor safety standards. That being said, when traveling between islands, it is preferable to travel by air rather than by sea, as many boat and ferry services do not adhere to minimal safety standards.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

The Comoros Islands enjoy a tropical maritime climate characterized by fairly constant daytime temperatures, around 26°C at sea level, and high annual rainfall (2679 mm). The average ocean temperature is 25°C. The island nation experiences two seasons, the hot and humid season (from November to April) and the dry season (May to October).

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +269
Local Police: 7734 663

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019