Tunisia gets $22m funding from Germany to secure borders

A group of four organisations that saved Tunisia’s transition to democracy through dialogue have won the Nobel Peace Prize but the peace they managed to bring to the North African state is being threatened by a terrorist network. Germany has offered to help.

“We have decided to grant Tunisia 20 million euros [$22 million] to help secure its borders with neighbouring countries such as Libya, from where terrorists have prepared and carried out attacks against Tunisia time and again,” a statement by Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier said following a meeting with his Tunisian counterpart Taieb Baccouche at the Federal Foreign Office on December 9.

“These funds will be used to improve the training and equipment of the border police and help to install electronic border controls.”

The statement describes the terrorist network as one which will stop at nothing when it comes to committing violent attacks and whose aim is to destabilise Tunisia’s young democracy and to force its fanatical ideology on people.

The Tunisian Quartet made up of the Human Rights League, General Labour Union (UGTT), the Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), and the Order of Lawyers had successfully employed dialogue to save Tunisia’s transition to democracy at a sensitive moment in 2013 when widespread social unrest threatened the process.

“Arms, in the end, only lead to destruction,” Abdessatar Ben Moussa, head of Tunisia’s Human Rights League, told AFP in an interview ahead of the Nobel prize Awards ceremony on Thursday.

However, the emerging threat in Tunisia is real and may end the fruits of the efforts of the quartet which Tunisia has been enjoying. In view of the situation in neighbouring countries Libya and Algeria, securing its borders is absolutely vital to Tunisia. Germany’s support is concentrated on this, with training programmes to improve security at border checkpoints, the deactivation of explosives and sea rescue operations.

Also speaking at the awards ceremony in Oslo, Hussein Abassi, head of the Tunisian General Labour Union, said in a speech: “Today we are most in need of making the fight against terrorism an absolute priority, which means perseverance on coordination and cooperation between all nations to drain its resources,”