The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the U.K. has issued an advisory recommending that British citizens avoid travel to Tunisia due to the surge in civil disturbances in the country. The US and France have also advised against non-essential travel to Tunisia.
“We advise against all but essential travel to Tunisia and urge those in country to consider if they need to remain,” the FCO stated.
Protests against Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has thrown the normally sedate capital into turmoil. Incensed over rising food prices, diminishing employment opportunities, and political repression young Tunisians are demanding his removal from power.
The President has already dissolved the country's government and declared a state of emergency.
“There have been demonstrations, some violent, in multiple locations across the country, including (but by no means limited to) Tunis, Sousse, Sfax, Nabul, Hammamet, Douze, Kasserine, Requeb and Thia. The situation is unpredictable and there is the potential for violence to flare up, raising the risk of getting caught up in demonstrations, there are also reports of looting in some residential areas of Tunis.”
Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne told BBC that while some of the violence in Tunis seems to have dampened down since Thursday, there still existed a genuine risk.
The FOC further warned that a nightly curfew has been enforced in the Greater Tunis area and similar restrictions may be imposed in other parts of the country. Moreover, “further violence is expected.”
“There is a general threat from terrorism in Tunisia,” the government body stated.
“Attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by British expatriates and foreign travelers.”
Meanwhile, as Tunisian protesters set fire to cars and damage many buildings, UK travel agency Thomas Cook said it is bringing home all of its British customers from Tunisia.
Cook said it is strongly advising the estimated 1,800 UK and Irish tourists in the country to take up the offer of return flights on Friday.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.