In Tunisia, the COVID-19 epidemic has shed light on the limits of public hospitals and the health sector in general. More than 3 months after the announcement of the first detected case, and with the borders soon to reopen, the health crisis seems, for the moment, to be under control. A look back at the figures of a crisis that has put both the authorities and the population to the test.
With international borders closed, the families of 134 Tunisians have lost the chance to repatriate their loved ones who died in France due to COVID-19-related complications. Obligated to bury them on the spot, many were unable to honor their family members’ final wishes.
One early Sunday morning in the northern suburbs of Tunis, a small group of women - primarily from Côte d'Ivoire - set up shop in the middle of the bustling Bousalsla market. In the same spot every Sunday thereafter, accompanied almost exclusively by Tunisian male vendors, these women sold products from their homelands and anchored a growing sub-Saharan community to the neighborhood, until March 22, when measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 shut the market down and sent the vendors away. Their stories from a precarious, weeks-long confinement, firsthand.
January 14, 2011. Like thousands of others, Bakhta El Cadhi, a trade unionist and feminist activist, and her daughter Haifa Jmour head to the protests. When police violence breaks out, they are separated and obligated to take refuge in different apartments in the city center, just a few dozen meters from each other. But behind the doors of these apartments, their experiences of this historic day will greatly diverge.
"After confinement, everyone will have to wear masks," health minister Abdellatif Mekki said on April 5, contradicting what the authorities had said a few weeks prior. Masks are increasingly found in pharmacies and street stalls but were widely unavailable at the start of the epidemic. Behind the scenes, production is frequently delayed and official guidelines remain unclear.
Updated March 31, 2020. There are calls for a total lockdown, border closures, social distancing, and forced quarantine. With 423 cases declared by the end of March, the spread of the virus is accelerating slower than expected. But still, understanding the speed of spread is important, and the situation in April will depend on the effectiveness of the measures taken. The main challenge is the threat to the healthcare system, posed by the low rates of testing and the seeming impossibility of treating all the victims of this unprecedented pandemic.
January 14, 2011. Nedra Ben Smail, psychoanalyst, cancels all of her sessions for the day. An "intuitive" call pushes her to go to Habib Bourguiba Avenue, like thousands of other demonstrators. Just as the police begin the crackdown, using batons and tear gas, more than a hundred people take refuge in her hotel, the Carlton, just opposite the Ministry of Interior. When the curfew is declared, she will have to manage the situation, the police, and her own relationship to the violence of the moment. She retells the events of this evening, where she is both a witness and protagonist of moments that will "break into" her life and mark a collective and individual upheaval. An audio story of a night at the hotel.
January 14, 2011. In this second episode of the series, photographer Hamideddine Bouali's destiny changes right after celebrating his 50th birthday. Hamideddine says it himself, he was not an activist, and "like most Tunisians" he was afraid. Before, he captured photos of Sidi Bou Saïd or the Medina, but on this Friday, January 14, he found the courage to immortalize this historic day "at close range." From rooftops and balconies, he documents unprecedented scenes, following the procession of Helmi, a young man killed the day before, to the front steps of the Ministry of Interior. The photographer tells the story behind the images stored in Tunisia's collective memory.
In Tunisian farmland, pesticides are everywhere. Most farmers are now dependent on these chemicals to cultivate fruit and vegetables and maximize their yields. But with little monitoring and regulation, these pesticides may pose many risks to the consumer.
A member of parliament is caught masturbating in front of a high school, his photos are shared widely on social media, and the Tunisian #MeToo is born. The #EnaZeda movement creates a space for thousands of individuals across the country to break the code of silence maintained by patriarchal norms. With this audio documentary, Inkyfada considers the political side of the movement - through meetings, discussions and critiques -, alongside the personal stories that brought it to life.
In the Gabès sky, smoke from the Tunisian Chemical Group (GCT) rises up into toxic clouds. Every day, this pollution engulfs the city and suffocates the inhabitants. For years, farmers, workers, and activists have been mobilizing against the factory’s harmful practices. In their ongoing struggle, many citizens of Gabès refuse to resign.
In Bab Dzira, at the heart of Tunis, the old street of Sidi Bouchoucha is undergoing reconstruction. Part of the pavement is completely demolished and large potholes are abundant. But on this Sunday morning, October 20, 2019, the neighborhood is taking on a new face with dozens of residents outside determined to clean it. However, this one-off initiative is also symbolic of a wider event that is taking place across the country: the reappropriation of public space.