On 21 April 2016, the Government of Tajikistan signed the Model Customs Facilitation Agreement, representing a major step forward in strengthening preparedness and a pioneering initiative for other countries in the region. The agreement will allow aid consignments, including search and rescue teams, search dog teams and mobile medical units, high-technology emergency communications equipment and other emergency relief items to quickly enter and transit into the country in the event of an emergency.

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Credit: Ahmadchoo

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Credit: Ahmadchoo

Tajikistan is prone to a variety of natural disasters. Earthquakes, floods, mudflows and landslides have the greatest potential to affect significant numbers of people. Every year there is an average of 9,000 quakes, often causing considerable damage to villages. Tajikistan’s vulnerability led the Government to prioritize the rapid deployment of international aid in emergency situations by lowering customs barriers.  Such an agreement, along with vital information shared by national authorities, will enable UN agencies, bilateral responders and other humanitarian actors to quickly contact appropriate National Customs Authorities and bring in relief consignments critical for saving lives and reducing the suffering of the affected people.

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18 December 2013, Vahdat, Tajikistan.Credit: UNDP Tajikistan

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18 December 2013, Vahdat, Tajikistan.Credit: UNDP Tajikistan

Developed by OCHA and approved by the World Customs Organization, the Customs Agreement between the UN and Member States includes recommended measures to expedite customs clearance procedures, including simplified documentation and inspection, temporary or permanent waiving of duties and taxes on imports and clearance arrangements outside official working hours and locations.