The Tunisian government announced on January 20th that it would take measures to create 5000 new jobs, after a protests across the country had been ongoing for five days. The protests were triggered by the death of an unemployed man in the central city of Kasserine. Despite an imposed curfew protests continued for a second day and spread to other cities in the region.
The government gathered on 20 January in an emergency meeting and agreed to adopt measures that would create 5000 new jobs along with 1400 jobs that are part of an existing program. Furthermore government promised to improve work conditions, build more social housing and to battle corruption more effectively. However, protests continued the next day and spread to the Algerian border. In the capital Tunis some 150 people joined the protests. So far dozens of injuries were reported and a police officer was killed by crowds according to the Interior Ministry. On the fourth day of the protests, police used tear gas and water cannons against the crowd. Over 200 protesters received hospital treatment for gas inhalation.
Tunisia’s level of unemployment stands at more than 15 percent, while the number of university educated people is even higher at 32 percent. The region of Kasserine especially has a high number of unemployed people. President Beji Caid Essebi said that Tunisia currently has “700.000 unemployed and 250.000 of them young people with degrees”. The economy of the country has not fully revived from the 2011 Arab Spring revolution, while the tourist market was damaged by two terror attacks last year.
Despite the announced measures by government, protests are ongoing. The violence in Kasserine was reported to be halted, although crowds are still gathering in the city center. In several other cities across the country protests continue. The protests are a reminder of the protest during the Arab Spring, that started exactly five years ago.