Gafsa, The condemned City “Give me back my rights…. otherwise you will export phosphate via Bluetooth”

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 their standards of living , cities in the mining basin revolted. Zine El Abddine Ben Ali, the ousted despot cracked down on the Gafsa uprising unsympathetically.

Despite hundreds being recruited in the local Phosphate company ,the Tunisian revolution brought about a situation that caused nothing but more misery and despair for the unemployed youth in Gafsa. Previous recruitment rounds of the company caused large tribal confrontations when falsified lists of successful jobseekers were circulated.

Mohamed from Mdhilla , showing the impact of blasting in surface mines on his house.

Nermine, Mohamed's daughter was born with a facial birth defect. she is suffering from cleft lip caused by environmental pollution mainly coming from toxins ejected by the Phosphate company.

Mohamed application was rejected

Nermine's case is similar to many. The company is dumping waste into the water table easily contaminating the drinking water. Poisonous solid chemical particles and other gases are directly emitted into the air.

The man on the photo spent more than 35 years working as dustman. . 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.

The job took his eyes.

Mouheeb, job seeker sitting on his parent's house
Mouheeb, in an internet coffee , checking the company website for his application outcome.
No chance, time for cigarette.
Poor families just don't have access to birth control, thus large families are commun in the mining region.
Dieb , father to three kids and supporting his parents, have only access to casual work. with a university degree, Ghzala, Dieb's wife, was denied job due to complex criteria that favor men. Dieb's application was also rejected.
This family's house is a one small room.
Yamina, the eldest sister with 13 year old, whispers in her mom's ear every time she want to change clothes to tell her father to get out.
This family lives from gathering plastic
At 42, Adel , finally succeeded in securing a job within the company. His mom couldn't be any happier . Time to look for a wife.
The guy in the middle was also hired. his friends are more happier than ever.

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