01st March 2021 - Tunis, Tunisia
As part of the United Nations coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Tunisia, UNODC equipped five border crossings with decontamination units and protective and medical equipment to isolate and test travelers with symptoms.
“Before this equipment was provided, we were testing up to 2,000 individuals a day outside”- Commented a doctor on the frontline at a border crossing point in Tunisia.
During the handover ceremony held at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport, the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Arnaud Peral, stated that “this pandemic has had an enormous impact on our societies. The one thing that we may have learned is solidarity. To be able to overcome COVID-19’s negative consequences, we must act together and support one another in an inclusive way.
Today this solidarity becomes a reality thanks to the flexibility displayed by the EU in redirecting funds to the COVID-19 response. Flexibility and inclusion have also shown by Tunisia by assuring that nationals as well as foreigners and migrants, will be included at all stages of the upcoming vaccination campaign.”
The event, organized by UNODC in line with the World Health Organization’s health and safety measures, brought together officials from the Tunisian Ministries of Health, Interior, and Transport.
The EU Ambassador to Tunisia, Mr. Marcus Cornaro, affirmed that “border posts, as well as Tunis Carthage airport, are crucial to ensure safe international travel and access to the country. They are also a priority for Tunisia and its travel industry’s recovery. The provision of such equipment to Tunisia will help ensure a quick return to normality for its hard-hit tourism sector.”
Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 crisis had an unprecedented impact on societies. To address these consequences and assist countries to contain the spread of the pandemic required UNODC to mobilize resources and assist national institutions to continue operating safely and effectively.
Now, the border posts of Bouchebka, Malloula, Tunis-Carthage Airport, Dehiba, and Hizoua received fully equipped isolation units, allowing health staff and border authorities to isolate and conduct safe testing for travelers with COVID-19 or for those displaying symptoms and liaise with hospitals for transfer once a COVID-19 case is suspected or detected. These units also help to ensure the safety of other travelers who may otherwise be exposed to the virus.
"We express our gratitude to UNODC, WHO and the EU for the 5 isolation units that will be crucial in the fight against COVID-19 as well as any future health crisis. We are also waiting to receive COVID-19 vaccines and we trust our partners for the support they will provide in obtaining them,” Mr. Faouzi Mehdi, Minister of Health of Tunisia added.
“I want to thank all colleagues involved as well as our partners for the efforts made, and for this excellent example of partnership and coordination,” Ms. Caroline Burgers, UNODC Head of Office a.i expressed.
The support of the European Union was fundamental in achieving this important result. Funds from two EU-UNODC joint projects on “Dismantling Human Trafficking & Migrant Smuggling Criminal Networks in North Africa” and “Strengthening the Legal Regime against foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in the Middle East, North Africa and South-Eastern Europe” were reallocated towards equipping the border posts.