Thousands of Tunisians have taken to the streets in protest against Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. They want him out of office and his promise not to run for re-election in 2014 isn’t enough. Foreign Office advices against all non-essential travel to Tunisia due to “intensifying political and social unrest.”
Thomas Cook Airlines plans to fly home more than 1,800 British tourists in Tunisia today as a precaution. Tourists may choose to stay for the remainder of their holiday but due to the recent travel warnings against all but essential travel, many are urged to take the flights to London, or elsewhere in the UK. Political demonstrations (some violent) have broken out in locations across the country including Tunis, Sousse, Sfax, Nabul, Hammamet, Douze, Kasserine, Requeb and Thia.
On January 12th, 2011 a nightly curfew was imposed on the greater Tunis area between 20:00 and 5:30. This is strictly imposed, even for tourists visiting the city. There was a general strike today and violence is expected in the coming days.
Locals are outraged by the lack of jobs and the rising cost of basic necessities including bread, milk and water. Demonstrations and protests against a 50 year dictatorship since the turn of the new year have to date killed 23.
What should you do?
If you are planning on travelling to Tunisia in the coming days, call your airline. Chances are your flights have been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances in your destination country. Holiday trips run by First Choice and Thomson have been cancelled as well as all Thomson Airways‘ flights scheduled for Sunday.
If you are already in Tunisia, monitor the news and stay in touch with your airline or tour operator. Respect the advice and curfews imposed by local authorities, follow the instructions your travel agent/tour group give you. Avoid rallies or demonstrations at all costs, including large gatherings of people in the streets. If you have any doubts about the safety of your area, it’s best to stay indoors at your accommodations.