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Picking Halfa rescues Tunisian job seekers

Picking Halfa rescues Tunisian job seekers


Unemployed Tunisians have turned to picking Halfa in their quest to make ends meet.

Unemployment rates remain high in the North African state after the revolution which sparked the Arab spring in 2010.

According to data from Tunisia’s National Institute of Statistics, unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2015 stood at around 15.3 percent.

25-year-old Anis Djebar is among those who have turned to picking Halfa with his wife in the Kasserine region.

“I am collecting Halfa grass because I do not have any other job. I went to the municipality, I went everywhere, but I could not find any help. I resorted to picking Halfa grass. We sell 100 kg for 10 or 12 Tunisian Dinars (4.90 or 5.90 USD). My wife and I collect 200 kg to be able to eat and pay house rents, water and electricity bills. I was waiting outside the office of the municipality for a week. My wife was working here while I was protesting there. We just want them to give us jobs,” said Anis Djebar, a Kasserine resident.

Djebar’s wife, Bashmah, is equally frustrated.

“I am doing this because I do not have money for dinner. I live in very bad conditions. I want the government to help me with a job which can help me afford food and improve my situation.”

Others like Nabil Halimi have intensified work to help a young brother who is sick and needs money.

“And if I do not work, he would not live. Sometimes the doctors give him drug prescriptions to buy but I throw them because I cannot buy them,” he said.

Unemployed young men in Tunisia usually express their anger by threatening to commit suicide.

Two men were recently injured after suicide attempts. The unrest in the country had spread quickly to other towns before Tunisia’s government declared a curfew and promised to address the rampant unemployment.