Youths in Tunisia’s deprived south dream of ‘real’ jobs

A Tunisian woman holds the national flag and make a sign during a rally in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (AP)
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Updated 27 June 2020

Youths in Tunisia’s deprived south dream of ‘real’ jobs

TATAOUINE, TUNISIA: In the southernmost Tunisian town of Tataouine, being young often means being unemployed, while even those who have a job dream of landing a “real” one in the energy sector.
For weeks, protesters have blocked roads and sought to prevent trucks from delivering supplies to the remote El-Kamour pumping station in the desert outside the town.
Last weekend the protests turned violent as demonstrators clashed with security forces.
“What hurts us most is that God has given us everything, but effectively we have nothing,” said Khaled Jady, 32, who, like many of the protesters, had hoped for a “real” job in the oil sector.
Protesters have been demanding that the government honor a deal reached after a months-long sit-in during 2017 to invest millions in the region’s development and provide jobs to thousands.
“They never hire anyone from the region. They tell us we have no formal training” to work in the energy sector, said Jady.
“They should train us for one or two years and then give us jobs,” said the young man whose own education stopped at primary school level.
Southern Tunisia is one of the country’s most marginalized regions, with above average unemployment, failing infrastructure and a stunted private sector.
The town of Tataouine, which is also the name of the governorate, lies some 550 km south of Tunis at the gates of the Sahara desert.
Its schools are neglected and universities in nearby cities offer little hope of a career to young people seeking to build a future, unlike those on the coast that offer engineering and medical degrees.

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Protesters have been demanding that the government honor a deal reached after a months-long sit-in during 2017 to invest millions in the region’s development and provide jobs to thousands.

Unemployment is the highest in Tunisia at 30 percent, according to official estimates, with the rate for young people considerably higher.
Nearly a decade after the revolution that toppled Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the government has yet to resolve regional inequalities.
Mohammed, who holds a master’s degree, is a waiter at a cafe in Tataouine, but he describes himself as “unemployed.”
What frustrates him most is not the lack of jobs but the lack of wider opportunities. He hopes that the government will open up jobs in state schools so that he can find work.
Tunisian President Kais Saied, who had focused on Tunisia’s disenfranchised youth during his 2019 election campaign, met with activists from the southern region earlier this year to discuss their plight.
On Tuesday Saied called on demonstrators in Tataouine to “overcome” their situation and not just demand jobs.
“You should submit development projects yourselves” to the government, the president said.
But Khaled Handoura believes that the problem also lies in the low salaries offered by job providers, like the private sector where the monthly pay is often under €300 ($330).
“There are no jobs out there that allow you to start a family,” said Handoura, who lost his job as an engineer following a workplace injury.
“In order to get married we need money,” he added.
With little help from the government, Handoura said, illegal migration remains the only solution for “90 percent of Tataouine’s young people.”
“They prefer to go abroad and earn 50 euros a day than stay here,” he said.
When asked what dreams he has for the future, his answer is bleak.
“I have dreams, but then reality hits, and it is a reinforced concrete wall.”


Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

Updated 07 July 2020

Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

  • Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Hisham Al-Hashimi outside his home in the Zeyouneh area of Baghdad
  • Al-Hashimi was a well-connected security analyst

BAGHDAD: Iraqi mourners and relatives on Tuesday carried the body of a respected analyst shot and killed the previous night in Baghdad after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias. Many Iraqis expressed their shock over the slaying.
Hisham Al-Hashimi, 47, was gunned down on Monday night outside his home in Baghdad’s Zeyouneh neighborhood. His casket, draped in the Iraqi flag, was taken to his family home before being driven to the burial site.
Al-Hashimi, a leading expert on Daesh and other militant organization, was a regular fixture on Iraqi television and his expertise was often sought by government officials, journalists and researchers.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, which comes weeks after he confided to close friends that he had received threats from militia groups. The slaying also coincides with a spate of rocket attacks targeting US interests that has been blamed on Iran-backed armed groups.
Authorities launched a raid last week in Baghdad, in which they detained 14 members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah group, suspected of orchestrating the attacks. All but one detainees were released days later.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces would “spare no effort” in pursuing Al-Hashimi’s killers.

Hours after Al-Hashimi’s killing, authorities fired the top police officer for Zeyouneh and launched an investigation into his activities, according to an order from the prime minister’s office, seen by The Associated Press.
Condemnations from Iraqi officials poured in as shock reverberated across the country at the news of Al-Hashimi’s killing.

Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, said “authorities must find the perpetrators of this terror act and bring them to justice,” in a tweet on Tuesday.