Tunisia Crime & Safety 2014

Greetings Expats, 

The Overseas Security Advisory Council (O.S.A.C.) was “created in 1985 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to promote security cooperation between American private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State.”

Each year OSAC publishes a Crime & Safety Report covering a variety of security & safety topics.  I find the report very helpful especially for newly arrived expats.   

Below is a brief presentation highlighting the key aspects of the report.  I hope you find the information helpful and let’s continue to share practical security information.

TS Update-(Sejnane Advisory)

Before I share some analysis concerning the alarming incidents that took place in Sejnane (Bizerte, Tunisia), I would like to thank all the motivating Tunisia Security Updaters out there who keep sending me solid & relevant information. It’s one thing to read a story online, but to actually receive eye-witness accounts is so much more empowering. 

As reported by various news outlets, two separate yet related incidents recently took place in the town of Sejnane: 

  1. A group of students on a field trip from the Higher Institute of Applied Biological Sciences (ISSBAT), stopped in Sejnane (Bizerte) on their way to Ain Draham. According to eyewitnesses students were attacked by religious activists.  
  2.   Basically, a mix group of foreigners and Tunisians were attacked on the road while on their way back from a trip to Cap Serrat.  In the words of one of the victims:  “I would  highly recommend to avoid the City of SEJNANE / Cap Serrat.”
  3. Additionally, other security coordinators have received similar accounts related to the same area.  

While Sejnane itself is not a popular touristic destination, it is on the way to Ain Draham, Tabarka, and several other more attractive places.  The “Sejnane incident” is not a surprise for anyone who has been following the developments throughout the country since the Revolution. As early as January 2012, the Tunisian media reported that a  “group of about 250 individuals managed to “talibanize” Sejnane , imposing their hardline Islamic rule, without being in any way contravened by the country’s security forces.”

Field Trip Security

Interestingly enough there is a useful correlation between driving and good situational awareness.  Make sure that you are using at least 3 levels of situational awareness while driving.  Here’s a simple model which you can use as a starting point: 

  • Level 1:  Relaxed Awareness…In this state you want to make sure that you are not only driving safely but also able to look ahead for possible hazards.  Like a good chess player, make sure you’re at least 3 moves ahead of the next guy.
  • Level 2:  Focused Awareness…Have you ever been driving and suddenly knew that something was wrong up ahead?  You don’t know how but something (intuition, experience, higher self…) let you know that you better be careful and most of the times you are right! 
  • Level 3:  Action Awareness….Whereas in focused awareness your attention was on identifying what was happening…in action awareness you are moving from thinking to doing. Make sure your action is swift and precise.

The bottom line is that Tunisia has many beautiful sites to visit and road trips are usually enjoyable & safe.  By practicing good situational awareness you will make sure that all your excitement remains on the fun side of the Expat experience.

 Once again thank you for all the feedback & let’s keep sharing information…

TS Update-(Djerba Advisory)

It’s interesting to see that Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) has “increased its travel warning to Tunisia following reports of possible attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets in the country.”  According to their Anti-terrorism Bureau their major concern is on the island of Djerba and the upcoming pilgrimage that will be taking place there this Wednesday and Thursday (May 9th & 10th, 2012). 

As stated by the latest US embassy travel alert, the security situation “in most tourist and business centers remains calm.”  However, for the time being we would recommend that you think twice about visiting the lovely island of Djerba at least for this week. 

On a Positive Note…

I had the privilege of coordinating security for 9 field trips throughout Tunisia. Trips in Zaghouan, Ghar El Milh, Mannouba, Sidi Thabet, Testour, Raf Raf, Sid Bou, and Carthage; all proved to be successful.  On all sites we encountered cooperative security forces that appeared alert & prepared.  Additionally, not only was the weather amazing but the people were friendly and welcoming. 

Field Trip Map

Enjoy the nice weather and remember to stay safe, informed, and positive. 

Eid Al-Adha Travel-Security

Wishing everyone a pleasant and relaxing Eid weekend.  Here are a few points you may wish to consider before you hit the road:  

General
The Tunisian Interior Ministry has called on road users to show extra vigilance while driving.  The ministry also warns people against the “traffic congestion over the next week or so, especially Saturday 5th November (from 2:00 p.m.), and Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 November 2011.”  As always it is recommended that you avoid excessive speed, observe the safety distance and respect road priority.

Local Travel
Because of the unpredictability of demonstrations and an increase in the levels of crime, if you wish to visit sites in the interior of the country, it is recommended that you do so with an approved local guide or reputable tour operator. Please also note that tourists wanting to visit the southern border areas have to obtain permission from the Tunisian authorities to enter certain desert areas on the borders with Algeria and the southern military zones and must travel with licensed guides.

Stay Alert/Stay Safe
A State of Emergency remains in place. You should be aware that the authorities may restrict travel or enforce local curfews with little or no notice. It is important that you observe instructions given by security authorities and above all use good common sense.

Good Emergency Numbers while on the road:
193 for the National Guard, 197 for police assistance, the 198 Civil Protection, the 71,960,448 for the Intelligence Center of the National Guard and 71,342 .787 for the operating room of the traffic police.