Comoros Country Report
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to mean delays to or cancellation of donor pledges of USD6.8 billion secured by President Assoumani at a Paris conference in December 2019, thus delaying his Plan Comores Emergent (PCE) aimed at developing tourism, agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure, transport links, and the finance sector by 2030. Currently, persistent fuel and power shortages occur, coupled with general strikes over energy and infrastructure failings and public-sector strikes over pay. Endemic bribery is exacerbated by competition for illicit payments between national and island administrators.
In May 2020, the government claimed it had foiled a “terrorist” plot to place a bomb on an inter-island aircraft used by the president. It warned that had the plan succeeded, Comoros would have been “transformed into Rwanda bis”. Allegedly, the operation’s backers were based in Mayotte, France, and Madagascar. In August 2018, eight “terrorist” suspects were arrested for allegedly planning a coup, and three armed men were killed in a short-lived attempted insurrection in March 2019. Although the government refers to suspects as "terrorists", they do not belong to organised non-state armed groups. Despite the islands' strongly Muslim identity, there is little sign of the Islamic State gaining a foothold.
Elevated crime risks exist in urban areas and tourist centres. Visitors are at greatest risk of carjacking, housebreaking 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, crime rates are more likely to increase due to the distraction of security forces. Poorly resourced security forces do not have the ability to curb the crime rates significantly.
President Assoumani generally retains the loyalty of the armed forces, after first changing the constitution in July 2018 and then engineering 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, although a failed insurrection after the March election indicates the existence of renegade soldiers. Following the 2018 constitution, power will likely stay centred on Grande-Comore in the long term, elevating civil war risks on Anjouan and Mohéli. The previous constitution had ensured rotation of the presidency between the three islands every five years and was credited with reducing civil war and coup risks.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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