Unemployed Tunisians attempt mass suicide
A group of jobless youth attempted to commit mass suicide on Monday in front of the municipal building in the southern Tunisian town of Sened, in Gafsa province.
Around 30 jobless youths had gathered to protest their conditions in front of the municipality on Monday when a group of some 15 youths attempted to commit suicide by setting fire to themselves and overdosing on medications.
The attempted suicide did not result in any fatalities due to the quick response of other protesters, although some sustained severe burns according to Ulfa al-Nasiri, a spokesperson for the protesters.
Nasiri told The New Arab that protesters who have been staging demonstrations for over a month in Sened reached boiling point after local officials refused to meet them to hear their demands.
Local authorities have promised to find solutions to the plight of the 4,000 unemployed graduates in Sened, however Nasiri says none of the official promises has materialized, and the town continues to suffer from under development and a lack of opportunities.
Tunisia regularly witnesses protests by jobless youth where the unemployment rate is over 15 per cent, and youth unemployment levels are at 30 per cent.
In late January, the country witnessed several days of riots over jobs and economic conditions in what turned out to be the largest protests since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.
Tunisia has also suffered four major terrorist attacks over the past year, resulting in a massive drop in the country's vital tourism revenue.
Two Islamic State group attacks last year killed 59 foreign tourists, badly shaking an industry that accounts for seven percent of the country's gross domestic product.
The IMF announced a $2.8 billion loan programme for Tunisia earlier this month. The programme, which is tied to economic reform conditionalities, will be subject to approval next month by the IMF's executive board.
It will replace a $1.6 billion bailout that expired at the end of last year.