TS Update-(New Site Subscribe Today)

Greetings Expats,

Since my return to Tunis on Friday I’ve been amazed at the amount of information coming our way here at the Tunisia Security Update blog.  On that note I would like to say thank you to all the expats and Tunisians that support us with insightful information.  

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Blog Update  

We’ve updated the blog and moved it to a self hosted site.  It’s the same domain (www.tunisiasecurityupdate.com) but we weren’t able to transfer all of our subscribers (over 2k!).    

If you would like to receive these updates directly into your email inbox please visit the new website and click on the subscribe button.  Simply enter your email and presto you will receive free security updates which you can view on any electronic device.  

Click here to visit new site

Challenges & Opportunities 

Since 2011 the purpose of the this blog was to empower expats with practical & relevant security information.  The security situation in Tunisia remains challenging but with the right setup and network we will continue to thrive in this beautiful country.

Please check out the blog homepage, subscribe and let me know what you think.

TS Update-(Summer Challenges & Beyond)

Greetings Expats,

As we stated in our previous postings, the threat level in Tunisia has increased and the month of Ramadan is proving to be very challenging for Tunisians.  This is a great time for us to review what happened and look beyond.

What’s going on? 

At least 14 Tunisian soldiers were killed when gunmen with rocket-propelled grenade attacked two checkpoints in the Chaambi mountain range.

Tunisian government stated that the attackers are tied to Al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Minster of Interior Mr. Ben Jeddou stated that since the start of Ramadan they’ve foiled six terrorist operations in  Tunisia.

Short Term=Tourism hit

Mount Chaambi is a war zone so it is very likely that similar incidents will take place.  On a broader level, the last couple of days have been a public relations nightmare for Tunisian tourism.  The Brits took the lead by warning its citizens of a “high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping.”

Specifically, the FCO advises against:  “all but essential travel to areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Medenine and Zarzisj, and to within 30km of the border with Algeria from south of the town of Ghardinaou.”

To put it bluntly, this really sucks for Tunisia especially since the number of British visitors to Tunisia reached a new record last year with more than 400,000 visitors.

Long Term=Great Security Challenge 

Here are my top 3 reasons why I think we (Tunisians & Expat Community) have great security challenges ahead:

  1. Parliamentary elections (currently) scheduled to take place on October 26th & Presidential elections on November 23rd
  2. Current situation in Libya
  3. Social-Economic challenges in Tunisia

And as if these weren’t challenging enough we also have to look at even more alarming developments such as “reports indicating the return of Libyan jihadists and others from Tunisia to their countries to create branches of ISIS in North Africa.”

Expat Deep Breath 

Since 2011 we’ve seen how resilient, peaceful, and kind Tunisians are.  We certainly hope for the best for Tunisia but as expats we have to focus on ensuring that our personal security matches or exceeds the threat level.

With the right setup, mindset, and network we can continue to live & thrive in beautiful Tunisia.  This is true for both tourists & expats.

Let’s stay connected…

 

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-(31st crafts exhibition in Le Kram)

Greetings Expats,

The 31st crafts exhibition will be held in Le Kram from 25 April to 4 May this year. At the event it is reported that 580 exhibitors will show their best stuff from a vast range of crafts, interior decorating, clothing, and much more.  Over 130,000 visitors are expected to attend and the National Handicrafts Office (ONA) has high hopes for the event.  

Situational Awareness

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Each year many expats attend this event and usually walk away with great gifts and a pleasurable experience.  On the flip side, these events are a good time to review practical personal security tips.    

3-Effective Tips to Stay Aware

1.  Setup:  Avoid parking near isolated areas and familiarize yourself with your surroundings.

2.  Focus:  It’s OK to explore but have a sense of purpose.

3.  Empower:  Remember most crimes in Tunisia are “Crimes of Opportunity“…don’t present the opportunity.  Walking while talking on your cell phone=opportunity, Leaving your hand bag unattended=opportunity, taking out large amounts of cash to pay for something=opportunity.

Feedback

Please feel free to share you’re experience if you attend this event.  Perhaps other expats will benefit from your feedback & tips.  

Share your feedback in the comment section below.  

 

 

 

 

 

TS Update-(Ramadan Awareness)

Expats living in Muslim countries “know the deal”…We know that during the month of Ramadan things change. We know that whether we like it or not we have to adjust our daily activities.  Ramadan offers us a great opportunity to both feel the experience of living abroad and evaluate our daily flow.

From a security perspective, the moth of Ramadan is an ideal time to take a step back and evaluate your routines, driving routes, walks, runs, neighborhood, etc.

Ramadan Awareness

There is a confirmed report that two shops located in the main Carrefour food court area were closed yesterday by the police.  According to one report the officers closed the shops for the “protection of the store attendants”.  It is no secret that a small number of conservative Muslims have been going around town trying to persuade cafe owners to close their stores during the day.

Nevertheless, there are many cafes and restaurants open during the fasting hours.  A contact on twitter reported that in the “Lac 2 there are a lot of restaurants doing very good lunch business.”  Additionally, it is good to know that we live in a mostly tolerant and friendly Muslim country and most people understand that not everyone is fasting.  Conversely we should respect local customs and “when in Rome…”

 

Ramadan Resources

Empower yourself with solid information and enjoy Ramadan…

Tunisia Live Ramadan Survival Guide

Gulf News Ramadan Guide for Expatriates

Tunisia.com Ramadan Forum

 

 

TS Update-(May Day…May Day)

Last year, May Day in Tunisia was marked by beautiful weather and plenty of protests.  May 1st 2012 may very well be a replay of last year.  May Day also known as International Workers Day,  presents a good opportunity for the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) to make a statement.  Last year UGTT was able to get hundreds of people to protest against the Tunisian interim government, this year the list of grievances is longer and the scene less dramatic.

May Day For Expats

Most of the protest last year took place in downtown Tunis and a few towns located in the interior of the country.  This year we can expect the same since the only two authorized protests are scheduled to take place downtown.  Still it’s important to continue to practice smart situational awareness.  

It’s important to remember that situational awareness is a process which when used correctly, will empower you to avoid potential threats.  This process is all about having the right mindset and you don’t need any type of military training to become good at it.  By simply doing a little pre-planning before you go out and observing your surroundings; you will be at least 3 moves ahead of the bad guys.

Make it Positive

A positive thing to do on May Day is to participate in the Race Against Cancer taking place early that morning. The event is intended to help the children’s cancer ward of the Salah Azaiz Hospital continue.  To learn more about this cause or join volunteer effort, please contact Zainab Jabba, Race Against Cancer Event Coordinator, at zainabjabba@yahoo.com.

Feedback…

On days like May 1st it’s important that we share information so if you see something while you’re out and about…please let us know.  Feel free to comment or send us an email…

 

 

 

TS Update-(International Security Advisory)

Since several embassies have updated their travel advisories, we felt it would be a good time to share an “International Tunisia Security Advisory Summary” for the entire Expat Community.

US-Embassy Advisory Highlights (last update on 17 Apr 2012): 

  •   Travelers contemplating trips to the interior of the country should
    assess local conditions and routes when making travel plans, as conditions
    can change quickly.
  •   The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid
    all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly, and a
    foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.
  •  While demonstrations have not been directed against foreigners, U.S.
    citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be
    vigilant regarding their personal security.

UK-Embassy Advisory Highlights (last update on 12 Apr 2012):

  • While most forms of protest pass without incident there is the possibility of injury if you are caught up in an event that does not pass peacefully.
  • Future demonstrations are likely and we recommend that British nationals avoid all forms of demonstration.
  • It is reported that incidents of mugging, pick pocketing, bag snatching and petty theft are on the increase and you are advised to ensure that bags are kept close to your person at all times.

CAN-Embassy Advisory Highlights (still valid as of 18 April 2012):

  • In recent months, a number of terrorist agents were captured in various regions, indicating that extremist elements are present and that the conflicts in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East continue to pose a general threat to the security of foreigners, foreign institutions and tourist facilities.
  • Reports of petty crime, including theft, pick-pocketing, purse-snatching and scams have increased since the recent unrest. Ensure personal belongings are secure at all times and carry photocopies of identification and travel documents.

We will continue to search for challenges as well as positive security developments…

 

 

 

TS Update-(Bourgiba Ave-Update)

Our last post focused on the April 9th protest on Avenue Bourgiba and the negative actions that took place that day. We pointed out that the  issue would remain a central point of dispute between “secularist” and the current government. 

It’s interesting to note that not only has the current government reversed the ban but the Interior Minister stated that from now on “cameras will monitor future protests”. Emphasizing cameras instead of tear gas and batons may result in more peaceful protests and less bad public relations for the new government. 

The reversal and recognition on the part of the government will definitely release some tension in the already stressful relationship between the Islamists led government and the secular opposition. 

Will it be enough?

Regarding the actions that took place on April 9th, a prominent columnist has eloquently pointed out that the suppression is “only a new sign of the fundamental cracks affecting the relationship between the Ennahda movement and the Tunisian public.”

It will be interesting to see how these “cracks” play out from here till the next round of elections. 

Two Extremes…

Contrary to what took place on April 9th, we have actually observed a very lay back attitude on the part of everyday Tunisian security forces.  On a number of different occasions, regarding a number of issues from burglaries to civil disputes, they have been very hesitant to get involved.

On the one hand the demonstrators who marched on Avenue Habib Bourguiba faced “harsh suppression by the security services…were beaten and a number suffered serious injuries”, while on the other hand we had to wait over 20 minutes for the local police to respond to a serious civil dispute.  Upon arrival they were very hesitant to even leave their patrol vehicle and instead of taking a proactive stance, they kept their distance and choose not to detain any of the participants.

While we welcome their new diplomacy and courtesy…the situation still remains very challenging.

As Expats we should remember that when it comes to our security & safety our best weapons are: situational awareness, pre-planning, and good old fashion common sense…and not local security forces.