Vienna (Austria), 17 November 2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose various challenges for the private and public sectors across the globe. The ensuing crisis was felt by many global programmes; and the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP), with its 59 participating countries, was no exception.
Social distancing measures have greatly limited the physical presence of training experts throughout partnering seaports and airports, in a time when travel is practically impossible due to restrictions and quarantine measures. However, the CCP was among the first to rise to the challenge and shift gears towards online training seminars as early as May 2020, that were well received by the officers in the field.
Since then, the programme’s digital reach was expanded to encompass frontline staff, then fine-turned to adapt to the needs of partnering countries. Trainers also nimbly acclimated to the virtual environment, where they continued to deliver the full range of CCP trainings on countering illicit trade in strategic goods, drugs, counterfeit products, protected species of fauna and flora and other special topics; even a new training course on X-ray image interpretation. Between May and October, more than 200 CCP online training events were delivered. Meanwhile, the CCP teams in Brussels and Vienna continue to provide support for international cooperation efforts in the fight against illicit trade.
These continuous efforts of the CCP teams at the WCO and the UNODC were positively rewarded by the officers of the Port Control Units (PCUs) and Air Cargo Control Units (ACCUs) in participating countries. As of 28 October, the 2020 seizures of cocaine amounted to approximately 78.3 tonnes (the total amount for 2019 was 77 tonnes). There were also numerous detections of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, as well as large consignments of chemicals for drug production, among others.
Also, the seizures of 750 kg of Captagon from Syria in Ukraine, and the biggest cocaine seizure in Paraguay’s history of 2.9 tonnes of cocaine, mark the latest achievements by the officers cooperating with the CCP.