June 02 – 08, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. sur Flickr

June 02, 2020: Tunisia in the Top 7 of the world’s best post-COVID-19 tourist destinations, according to Forbes

The American magazine Forbes classifies Tunisia and six other countries as “the best tourist destinations in the world in the post COVID-19 period”. In addition to Tunisia, they are Ethiopia, Iran, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Georgia, the Philippines and Slovenia, and the magazine also points out that Tunisia is a country open to the southern Mediterranean coast, with historical monuments and a popular North African cuisine. It is a privileged tourist destination also distinguished by a rich North African culture. Moreover, the country has managed to welcome more than 9 million tourists in 2019.

With regard to the coronavirus pandemic, Forbes recalls that Tunisia is one of the few countries least affected by the virus, although geographically very close to the most affected countries in Europe (just over 1,000 cases, most of which have healed). Given this favorable situation, the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism has enacted, as part of the government strategy to reopen tourist establishments, to establish a health protocol that must be respected by all hotel units.

Forbes proposes to tourists who wish to come to Tunisia to visit the Mediterranean coasts of the country, considered as attractive sites with their sandy beaches. But for those who are keen on history and human civilizations, the monuments of Carthage represent one of the richest treasure sites worth visiting, not forgetting the Tunisian Sahara with its remains of Berber dwellings. It should be remembered that the Tunisian government plans to reopen traffic between the governorates from 4 June 2020, a sign of recovery of the health situation in the country, pending the reopening of borders scheduled for the 27th current.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 03, 2020: Presenting a negative COVID-19 test should be mandatory for newcomers, according to Nissaf Ben Alaya

While Tunisia has not registered any new local cases of COVID-19 for almost 2 weeks, fears of a second wave of the disease mainly concern the arrival of people from abroad. Especially since the government has decided to reduce the mandatory quarantine period to one week, rather than two. In this context, the director of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases (NONMNE), Nissaf Ben Alaya, indicated yesterday, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, to the Tunis Afrique presse (Tap) agency, that the scientific committee for the fight against COVID-19 will propose to the government to require, from now on, tourists and Tunisians returning from abroad, negative screening tests carried out at least 72 hours before their arrival. The persons in question will also have to fill out a downloadable form on an application from the Ministry of Public Health to provide details about their state of health, Ben Alaya said, adding that respect for physical distance and the wearing of masks must be strictly controlled during the journey and during customs procedures at airports and ports. According to the government’s new health measures, a COVID-19 screening test is required twice for all new arrivals on Tunisian territory: on arrival and one week later, at the end of the health quarantine period.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 03, 2020: AfDB mobilizes €180 million to Support Tunisia

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank approved, on Wednesday 3 June in Abidjan, a 180 million euro loan to Tunisia to finance the programme of support for the response to COVID-19 through social inclusion and employment (PARISE). The immediate objective of PARISE is to strengthen the country’s health response and mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the crisis on the most vulnerable populations, particularly women and young people. The programme also intends to support the rapid recovery of the economy by preserving employment and promoting social inclusion. “In the face of this crisis of unprecedented magnitude, we are fully mobilized to support Tunisia”, said Mohamed El Azizi, the Bank’s Managing Director for North Africa.

“Protecting populations, strengthening the resilience of health and social protection systems, preserving jobs and accelerating economic recovery through strategic investments are our priorities. The programme will support measures to help contain the spread of the virus, strengthen the resilience of the health system and extend social coverage to the most vulnerable populations. It will help to strengthen early detection through the use of rapid tests for 450,000 people and will extend social security coverage for more than two million people, while protecting 140,000 low-income pensioners. In addition, PARISE aims to preserve jobs weakened by the crisis and to strengthen the social inclusion dynamic. During the confinement period, an exceptional allowance is granted to 623,000 families with limited income, 10,000 workers in a situation of job loss and 350,000 employees affected by the crisis. In the medium term, the programme will enable 230 000 small farmers, more than 320 000 employees and around 50 000 self-employed workers and craftsmen to keep their jobs. The programme will also help to save more than 400 exporting companies and 250 000 individual businesses from bankruptcy.

“We are supporting Tunisia by providing one-off assistance to more than two million people, 70% of whom are women, 350 000 very small businesses and almost 800 exporting companies in order to help the most vulnerable to cope with the economic and social consequences of the crisis. At the same time, nearly half a million people will be able to be tested”, assured the Bank’s Deputy Managing Director and Country Manager for Tunisia, Yacine Diama Fal. “We will also work alongside the authorities to strengthen the resilience of the country’s economy to future shocks,” she added. The partnership between Tunisia and the African Development Bank has lasted for almost half a century covering different sectors, including health, human development, energy, water, transport, agriculture and the financial sector.

For more information (in French), please visit the following link.

05 June, 2020: Migrants call for end to arbitrary detention in Tunisia

Migrants detained in the centre of El-Ouardia, south of Tunis, have just filed an urgent appeal with the administrative court to denounce their arbitrary detention, announced the NGO Avocats sans frontières (ASF) in a press release published today, Friday 5 June 2020. They have been detained for weeks, even months, in a place considered from a legal point of view as a shelter and orientation centre. A centre from which they cannot leave and which in practice operates as an illegal detention centre, says ASF, adding that, in this centre, “migrants are deprived of their liberty without any respect for their fundamental rights, in the absence of judicial procedures in accordance with the Constitution and international standards”. Migrants are accused by the administration of irregular entry or stay on Tunisian territory, but “such an offence cannot be sufficient to justify their detention without any legal procedure and judicial review, especially as some of them had already been tried and imprisoned for these acts before being interned in Ouardia”, stresses ASF, explaining that “in Tunisia, as elsewhere, an individual cannot be detained unless this deprivation of liberty is strictly regulated by an organic law and is accompanied by procedural guarantees to ensure that the detention is not illegal or arbitrary. In Tunisia, however, no law in force allows migrants to be subjected to any form of administrative detention”.

In its statement, ASF also considers that the procedural guarantees are not respected, as migrants have not been notified in writing of the legal basis for their detention, the duration of their detention, their rights to be assisted by a lawyer and an interpreter and to contact their consulate, or their right to take their case to court for immediate review of the lawfulness of their detention. Furthermore, their lawyers were not allowed to visit them and were not even given access to their files.

With the assistance of a group of lawyers, several detainees have today appealed to the Administrative Court of Tunis “so that it plays its role as guarantor of their rights and orders, without delay, the cessation of the arbitrary detention of which they are victims,” says ASF. “Beyond the arbitrary detention of the complainants concerned by these appeals, it is the very existence of the El Ouardia centre as a de facto detention centre that must be called into question, just as all the legislation governing the status of foreigners needs to be rethought. The decriminalization of illegal entry and residence, a review of the procedures for granting residence permits and processing applications, and the introduction of an asylum procedure are among the many measures that should be included as a government priority. These reforms appear to be genuine obligations with regard to the Constitution, which guarantees the right to asylum and the right not to be arbitrarily detained, but also with regard to the international human rights treaties ratified by Tunisia,” the ASF press release also states.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 07, 2020: In Tunisia, zero cases confirmed in the last 3 days and 56 subjects still carrying the virus

While the total number of confirmed cases has remained unchanged for the past three days at 1,087, the recovery curve continues to rise to 982 cases, the Tunisian Ministry of Health revealed on Sunday. In its daily epidemiological report, the ministry reports 49 deaths due to the new coronavirus, against only 56 subjects still carrying the virus. Among the 56 cases still carrying COVID-19, 15 are in Greater Tunis, 10 in the province of Kébili in the south-west, five in Gabes (south-east) and five others in Sousse (central-eastern coast).

It should be noted that 7 of the country’s 24 provinces now have zero cases of COVID-19 contamination, according to the epidemiological assessment of the Tunisian Ministry of Health.
After nearly two and a half months of containment (since 22 March), Tunisia is in the final phase of a targeted deconfinement plan, introduced by the government in three phases since 4 May, the last of which will end on 14 June this year. At present, the Tunisian economy has recovered 75% of its potential pending the health assessment of the final phase of targeted deconfinement.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 08, 2020: WB predicts a 4% contraction of Tunisia’s GDP in 2020 due to the effect of COVID-19

Tunisia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is expected to contract by 4% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published on Monday June 8, 2020 by the World Bank (WB) on global economic prospects. But it should see an improvement of +4.2% in 2021. In the Middle East and North Africa region, economic activity should fall by 4.2% under the effect of this crisis and the evolution of the oil market, which is far from the forecasts in the January edition (+2.4%). For the Bretton Woods institution, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding these forecasts, as oil-exporting countries are being penalized by the collapse in oil prices and outbreaks of COVID-19 disease, while oil importers are feeling the effects of the weakening of advanced economies and major emerging countries, the disruption caused by pandemic response measures and the likely decline in tourism.

According to the WB, economic activity in oil-importing countries is expected to contract by 0.8% in 2020 as tourism declines and export prospects deteriorate. Investment is expected to remain sluggish in the climate of global and national uncertainty, while consumption will be constrained by pandemic response measures. The high level of public debt is another obstacle to growth in oil-importing countries. Progress in structural reforms in the region can help reduce medium-term vulnerabilities while also improving medium-term growth prospects. For oil-exporting countries, the World Bank expects a 5% decline in activity due to the fall in oil prices, compared with the 2% growth forecast in January.
In many oil-exporting countries, measures to reduce oil production will significantly dampen growth.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (-4.1%), low oil prices and uncertainty about coronavirus will weigh heavily on the non-oil sectors. Algeria (-6.4%) and Iraq (-9.7%) are still grappling with the consequences of lower oil prices and structural vulnerabilities. According to the WB report, the contagion effects of the health crisis affecting major trading partners such as the Eurozone countries and China are already considerable and could intensify. The recent collapse of oil prices and the uncertainty about their future development is a major risk to the regional outlook in the short term. Persistently low oil prices would reduce already limited fiscal space and investment, according to the World Bank. In addition, conflict risks remain high in the region. Finally, political problems could further disrupt reform programmes, especially in small oil-importing countries.

World GDP is expected to decline by 5.2% in 2020, the worst global recession in decades, the World Bank predicts, stressing the need for measures to cushion the shock, protect vulnerable populations and improve countries’ ability to cope with similar crises in the future. Addressing the challenges posed by the informal nature of the economy and the lack of social safety nets, as well as reforms to ensure strong and sustainable growth, are also essential, the Bank said.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 08, 2020: COVID-19: Presidency lifts curfew

The Tunisian Presidency has just announced, on Monday 8 June, the lifting of the curfew. The curfew was introduced as part of the fight against the coronavirus. As part of the process of progressive and targeted deconfinement, Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed has just ordered the curfew to be lifted as of Monday 8 June 2020. The curfew was put in place on Wednesday 18 March to counter the epidemic and was one of the keys to the plan successfully implemented by Tunisia since it allowed the country to curb the spread of COVID-19. Tunisia has not recorded any community contamination for 17 days and no imported cases have been recorded for 5 days.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.