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Comoros Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

As of mid-April, Comoros had no recorded cases of COViD-19, according to the government. Commercial aviation has been suspended, with only cargo flights allowed to land, while maritime borders with east Africa have also been closed. Authoritarianism followed President Azali Assoumani's controversial re-election in March 2019, secured by a constitutional amendment referendum enabling him to contest two further five-year terms. In January 2020, his ruling CRC party won a sweeping majority in legislative elections, which were boycotted by the opposition, further consolidating his power. Presidential rotation between Comoros’s three islands was scrapped under the 2018 constitution, and power is likely to remain on Grande-Comore until 2029. USD6.8 billion in donor pledges for development, received in December 2019, will raise expectations of jobs and improved living standards, with renewed protests likely if these fail to materialise. Support for the main opposition Juwa party remains strong on the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli, but any secessionist attempts will likely be rebuffed by the security forces. Near-term growth prospects continue to be hindered by the under-execution of public-sector investment programmes owing to a fragile fiscal situation, severe infrastructural bottlenecks, and inadequate electricity supply. The economy should benefit from resilient remittance inflows and high exports as international vanilla prices remain elevated.Comoros faces heavy development needs for social and infrastructure projects. The extent of the donor pledges will allow Comoros to avoid any near-term IMF financial assistance and follows IMF demands in May 2018 for a deeper engagement with international donors. However, disbursement of funds and project delivery will be challenged by Comoros's weak fiscal backdrop and institutional capacity, vulnerability to adverse weather conditions, narrow export base, and potential for the misuse of funds.
Last update: June 17, 2020

Operational Outlook

President Assoumani's securing of USD6.8 billion in donor pledges at a Paris conference in December 2019 is likely to kickstart his Plan Comores Emergent (PCE) aimed at developing tourism, agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure, transport links and the finance sector by 2030. Comoros has an under-skilled but militant workforce, which will expect job creation. 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.

Last update: January 14, 2020

Terrorism

Elevated

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 on 28 March 2019. Although the government may call participants in such events "terrorists", they do not belong to organised non-state armed groups. 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 of the Islamic State gaining a foothold.

Last update: January 14, 2020

Crime

Crime risks are increasing 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.

Last update: January 14, 2020

War Risks

President Assoumani has generally retained 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. Civil war risks remain high, particularly on Anjouan and Mohéli, as the referendum means power will likely 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: January 14, 2020

Social Stability

High

Protests are likely due to political polarisation, exacerbated by the executive struggling to check inflation, provide basic utilities and pay civil servants. However, protest risks have declined 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, unpopular policies announced by the government or failure to create jobs after donors pledged massive development funding in December 2019. The executive is likely to respond with violence and single out opposition leaders and civil society activists to face spurious criminal charges.

Last update: January 14, 2020

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