Tataouine, a town which lies 550 km south of Tunisia at the gates of Sahara Desert, is populous with unemployed youths. Most of these residents have dreamed of actual jobs in the energy sector while actually, those employed lack adequate employment.
Following the high rates of unemployment, residents have been protesting in the streets of El-Kamour for weeks. Amid these demonstrations, they block trucks from delivering supplies to the remote towns. Last week protest resulted in violence as police clashed with the residents to restore peace.
One demonstrator, a 32-year-old man, says he is frustrated and hurt because they are suffering despite God’s generosity. Khaled Jady says Tunisia is rich in natural resources and, they still lack jobs and embrace poor lifestyles.
They, therefore, demand their government to honor their promise of job opportunities to thousands of people and development in marginalized regions. It was in 2017 when the activists presented their plight to the government upon which they reached a consensus. The residents anticipate the government will invest millions for development in the poor regions.
Jady whose highest level of education is primary states often they do not qualify for the opportunities in the formal sector. Why? This is because they lack formal training hence don’t have the skills.
Southern Tunisia is densely populated and occupied by low-status residents. They live under harsh conditions, surrounded by poor infrastructures surviving from hand to mouth. The area does not have proper learning institutions. The schools and institutions offer little hope for scholars since they do not administer technical courses. Meanwhile, universities on the coast provide technical courses in engineering and medicine.
Statistics reveal that 30% of the residents in Tunisia lack jobs and, most of them are youths.
Mohammed, a university graduate, expresses hopelessness because he hasn’t landed on an actual job since he completed school. He instead works in a café, which is contrary to what he desired. The government frustrates him most since they have not taken any step to provide a wide range of opportunities. He says there are no open jobs in the state schools hence he can’t find work.
Earlier this year President Kais Saied met with activists to address their plight. It was on a Tuesday when he called upon the protestors and urged them to submit to development projects before demanding jobs.
“You should submit development projects yourselves” to the government, the president said.
However, the residents believe it’s not just an issue of jobs but also the meager salaries they receive during the end month. The private sectors which should offer handsome amounts pay less than $330. Making it hard to start a family.
“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.
“To get married we need money,” he added.
Handoura says since they receive little or no help from the government, 90% of them opt for illegal migration abroad. They prefer risking it abroad where they earn at least 50 euros a day. He says he sees a bleak future for that’s the reality.