TS Update-(Summer Challenges & Beyond)

Greetings Expats,

As we stated in our previous postings, the threat level in Tunisia has increased and the month of Ramadan is proving to be very challenging for Tunisians.  This is a great time for us to review what happened and look beyond.

What’s going on? 

At least 14 Tunisian soldiers were killed when gunmen with rocket-propelled grenade attacked two checkpoints in the Chaambi mountain range.

Tunisian government stated that the attackers are tied to Al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Minster of Interior Mr. Ben Jeddou stated that since the start of Ramadan they’ve foiled six terrorist operations in  Tunisia.

Short Term=Tourism hit

Mount Chaambi is a war zone so it is very likely that similar incidents will take place.  On a broader level, the last couple of days have been a public relations nightmare for Tunisian tourism.  The Brits took the lead by warning its citizens of a “high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping.”

Specifically, the FCO advises against:  “all but essential travel to areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Medenine and Zarzisj, and to within 30km of the border with Algeria from south of the town of Ghardinaou.”

To put it bluntly, this really sucks for Tunisia especially since the number of British visitors to Tunisia reached a new record last year with more than 400,000 visitors.

Long Term=Great Security Challenge 

Here are my top 3 reasons why I think we (Tunisians & Expat Community) have great security challenges ahead:

  1. Parliamentary elections (currently) scheduled to take place on October 26th & Presidential elections on November 23rd
  2. Current situation in Libya
  3. Social-Economic challenges in Tunisia

And as if these weren’t challenging enough we also have to look at even more alarming developments such as “reports indicating the return of Libyan jihadists and others from Tunisia to their countries to create branches of ISIS in North Africa.”

Expat Deep Breath 

Since 2011 we’ve seen how resilient, peaceful, and kind Tunisians are.  We certainly hope for the best for Tunisia but as expats we have to focus on ensuring that our personal security matches or exceeds the threat level.

With the right setup, mindset, and network we can continue to live & thrive in beautiful Tunisia.  This is true for both tourists & expats.

Let’s stay connected…

 

TS Update-(FCO Security Update)

Greetings Expats,

The UK embassy has made a significant update on their Foreign travel advice page under the Terrorism section:

“There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.”

Reasons for concern:  

“On 25 May, security forces arrested 16 individuals with explosives near the southern border with Libya. In a press statement the Minister of the Interior announced that the group had plans to attack industrial sites and tourist areas.”

Threat vs. Reality 

Since 2011 we’ve seen similar alerts & warnings.  As expats we know that there is a wide disconnect between media reports and the actual situation on the ground. We have to review these reports carefully in order to make practical adjustments in our everyday life.

I personally find this update significant because we’re just days away from the summer peak holiday season. Still, most reports indicate that Tunisian Security Forces remain consistent in terms of their response and everyday performance.

Smart (Expat) Traveler  

Every embassy has some sort of registration program that allows its citizens to register their stay.  For Americans the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a “free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate”.

According to their website, the benefits of Enrolling in STEP are:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

Let’s continue to share information & remain informed.