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Tunisians Took On the Government and Won

Work has begun to clear 30,000 tonnes of household rubbish from the streets of Tunisia’s “second city” of Sfax after the government backed down in a long-running dispute over a landfill site. Residents and activists in Agareb, where the current dump is located, said the site, opened in 2008 near the El Gonna national park, was a risk to human health. In recent weeks, unrest in the region has escalated, with access to the site blocked and police using teargas against demonstrators from the town. One man, Abderrazek Lacheb, has allegedly died after being caught up in the demonstrations, although the police have denied his death was due to teargas. Waste management remains a significant problem for Tunisia. According to a World Bank report, less than two-thirds of rubbish in the capital, Tunis, is collected. Corruption within the sector has become a growing concern. In July 2020, the country’s then prime minister, Elyes Fakhfakh, resigned after being accused of corrupt links to the waste industry. In December, the environment minister was sacked and arrested after he was allegedly linked to an attempt to clandestinely import a shipment of Italian waste into the country.