Gafsa, The Condemned City

“Give me back my rights....otherwise you will be forced to export phosphate... via Blutooth”

The French discovered Tunisia’s first phosphate deposits in 1885. From that date onward, the rich resources have been transported to nearby industrial cities of Sfax, Gabes and Tunis for refinement and export. Gafsa, the 9th most populated city in Tunisia, lies 330 km southwest of Tunis and is best known for phosphate and its derivative industries. Minerals from Gafsa are exported to 34 countries all over the world.

In 2008, seeing the region’s main source of income fading away without any improvements in local standards of living or compensation from the phosphate company. Cities in the mining basin revolted. Zine El Abddine Ben Ali, the ousted despot cracked down on the Gafsa uprising unsympathetically.

The Tunisian revolution brought about a situation that caused nothing but more misery and despair for the unemployed youth in Gafsa. Previous rounds of the Gafsa Phosphate Mining Companies recruitment caused large tribal confrontations after rumours of false lists of workers the company intended to hire favoring one tribe over the other were circulated.

The Blind Man on to the right spent more than 35 years working as dustman. The job took his eyes. he spend his day laying on the 'sofa' and listening to the radio. he cannot walk. he had a work accident and without proper treatment, his bones bended in the wrong direction.

Wherever you go in Gafsa, you feel indignation on the faces of its inhabitants, for most of them; poverty is not a choice, it is a way of life. Each day from his wretched home, Chedly, the jobless father of one child, watches the region’s phosphate depart from the train station.


Nacer Talel

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