Tunisia Country Report
The new government formed in September 2017 is unlikely to diverge significantly from its predecessor in policy direction and predictability. Accordingly, government stability has been strengthened, although fractures between and within the parties are again likely to increase throughout 2018 ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019. Real GDP growth has only slightly recovered in 2017, given limited international investments and low oil prices. High unemployment, local currency inflation, and austerity measures will remain triggers for violent protests, particularly in the interior governorates, through 2018. Labour unrest is also likely in key sectors, such as phosphates and transport, over wages and working conditions.
Restrictions on foreign investment are likely to be reduced in line with IMF recommendations. The increased level of operational risk prompted by the 2011 revolution has persisted, including a significant uptick in labour strikes, primarily affecting the public sector. Infrastructure is of generally high quality. Corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency remains a hindrance to foreign operators investing in specific projects, particularly those involving public works. The government is likely to face significant bureaucratic resistance to promoting improvements in these areas, ensuring progress will be slow in 2017.
Tunisia's security framework was significantly weakened by the 2011 revolution and has only slowly been restored. The army has struggled to cover the resulting shortfall in security capacity. Of particular concern remains control over the porous borders with Libya and Algeria. Domestic militant networks, small cells, and self-radicalised individuals have benefited from easy access to the experience of foreign jihadists based in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The likely return of Tunisian jihadists from Libya is likely to maintain the high risk of terrorist attacks throughout 2018.
Tunisia's relations with its neighbours are generally good and interstate war is extremely unlikely in the five-year outlook. Following the disbandment of the former state security apparatus, the army has taken a larger role in Tunisia's internal security. This includes policing Tunisia's desert border areas against smugglers and jihadist militants; maintaining security at strategic locations such as ports, airports, and embassies; and preventing disruption and damage during outbreaks of political and labour unrest at energy assets. The army's small size means that it is ill-equipped to conclusively deal with persisting jihadist activity near the Algerian and Libyan borders.
There is a severe risk of outbreaks of economically motivated protest, particularly in the interior and southern governorates of Ben Gardane, Gafsa, Kasserine, Kef, Medenine, Sidi Bouzid, and Tataouine. Although most incidents will probably be largely peaceful, there is the potential for demonstrations to be hijacked by disruptive elements, prompting low-level fighting with the police and the destruction of urban property through arson attacks. There is a lower risk of violent mass protests in the major urban centres, including Tunis, where demonstrations are generally peaceful.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Road safety throughout the country poses significant risks to foreign travelers due to erratic driving habits. There is little adherence to the rules of the road, including a lack of lane discipline and awareness of right of way. Roads are generally in good condition throughout the country, but driving conditions can deteriorate quickly after periods of heavy rain. Roads in rural areas are less maintained. According to the Ministry of the Interior, more than 7100 road accidents (resulting in 1400 deaths and 10,000 injuries) were recorded in 2015. Travelers may come across security checkpoints (particularly near border areas), and are advised to approach slowly. Be prepared to present proof of identity if required, and comply with requests. Demonstrations can occasionally impact road travel.
Travelers should exercise caution when using public transportation due to safety and security concerns. Rail travel is generally safe, although safety standards tend to be lower than those in European and North American countries. It should be noted that travel via train between Tunis and Algiers (Algeria) is often unreliable due to political and security issues. Visits to the Sahara Desert require prior authorization from authorities. Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation at the ports of entry at Ras Jedir and Dehiba, along with the cities of Ben Guerdane and Medenine. The Libyan border is frequently closed to all traffic for extended periods with short notice. Travelers are advised to avoid all travel to and through the Libyan border without necessary security provisions.
The UK government has announced that passengers flying non-stop to the United Kingdom from Tunisia will be banned from transporting any electronic device larger than a standard-sized smartphone (16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm / 6.3 in x 3.5 in x 0.6 in) in carry-on luggage. This includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, DVD players, and video games, which will have to be stowed in checked luggage for the duration of the flight.
The weather during the spring months is pleasant throughout the country, with periodical showers in the north. Temperatures in the Sahara region are higher but nights are cool. In the summer, ocean winds lower temperatures along the coast. Inland in the south of the country temperatures tend to be very high. Temperatures in autumn are more pleasant and the first rains of the season come in November.
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