Additional strikes and protests are likely across Tunisia through at least Dec. 31 in response to a nationwide increase in unemployment associated with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Many residents nationwide have lost work or been forced to close their businesses due to the pandemic, prompting demonstrations and labor actions in multiple cities, including Sbeitla, Chebba, Beja, Gafsa, Kasserine, Sfax, and Tunis. Protesters assert that the government has failed to implement the types of economic reforms and development projects needed to create jobs.
Any gatherings that may materialize over the coming days and weeks will likely occur around popular protest sites, including public squares, city centers, and government buildings. Localized transport disruptions are likely. Security forces will probably deploy near all demonstration sites; clashes remain possible if protesters are overly disruptive or fail to observe existing COVID-19-related social distancing guidelines.
Nationwide protests and strikes in response to socioeconomic conditions are common in Tunisia. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted concerns over the nation's instability. The global response to the pandemic has negatively impacted Tunisia's tourism industry, which constitutes almost 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The current unemployment rate of 15 percent will likely rise as the economic impact of COVID-19 is felt throughout the country, exacerbating issues. Eastern and southern governorates will be particularly susceptible to demonstrations in the coming weeks and months due to the scarcity of employment opportunities and lack of development.
Avoid all protest actions due to the potential for violence. Exercise caution near likely rally locations. Monitor local media for protest activity, as organizers may not announce plans in advance. Confirm the availability of transport and allow additional time to reach destinations. Plan for increased security and localized transport disruptions near demonstration sites. Follow the instructions of all security officials.
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