At a time when HIV rates have stabilised or declined elsewhere, the epidemic is still advancing in the Arab world, exacerbated by factors such as political unrest, conflict, poverty and lack of awareness due to social taboos.
As the Egyptian revolution against Hosni Mubarak celebrates its third anniversary, the military junta under General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is resurrecting dictatorship under the veneer of “constitutional” legitimacy and on the pretense of fighting “terrorism.”
The widespread sectarian violence and ongoing military conflicts in several political hotspots, including Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, have not only claimed thousands of human lives and devastated fragile economies but also undermined the U.N.’s longstanding plans to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty worldwide.
In the city of Metlaoui in the Governorate of Gafsa, a mining region in the parched south of Tunisia, the streets are dust, filled with ruts, the skin of the men in the cracked lanes leathery brown from the heavy weather.
Thousands of opposition activists have protested in central Tunis, demanding the resignation of Tunisia's Islamist-led government, before a national dialogue aimed at ending months of political deadlock.
The Tunisian revolution, which ousted the dictator Ben Ali in early 2011, gave greater liberty to Tunisians but it also scared off many tourists. However, despite the current political crisis visitors have steadily returned, and the Tunisian authorities and tourism industry are determined to protect a sector which plays a vital role in the Tunisian economy.
Tunisia was plunged into political strife when opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated late last month, triggering widespread pro- and anti-government demonstrations across the country. In the days since his death the North African nation has faced a further series of terrorist attacks that have threatened to destabilise a country seen as a model for post-revolution democracy in the region.
As political divisions threaten to destabilise the national transition process in Tunisia, Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh has set deadlines for finalising the new constitution and holding elections. Not everyone is convinced these will be met.
In the third year after the revolution that toppled former dictator Ben Ali, true democracy is still work in progress in Tunisia.
Nearly two-and-a-half years since the toppling of the autocratic regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in the first regime change of the now famous Arab Spring, the high expectations of change to come with the revolution have hardly been met.
The story of Gabès and the local phosphate industry follows a plot that is all too familiar: an underdeveloped town located in an industrial region boasts one major lucrative industry with high output and export values, but the local population and surroundings experience alarming levels of illness and environmental blight.
By now, most movie fans know that American actor Leonardo DiCaprio was in this southern French city for the annual Cannes Film Festival. But fewer people are aware that Willis from Tunis and Kichka of Israel were also here.
When participants at the 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal, received word that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had stepped down, swept away by a wave of popular resistance that brought millions of Egyptians into the streets, few could contain their joy.
Ela, a young Tunisian woman whose face is barely visible behind her niqab, says she has spent five months protesting a university ban against the religious garment in the classroom “to no avail”. On the other side of the capital Tunis, a group of students decked out in djellabas and keffiyehs (traditional Tunisian costumes) with the Tunisian flag wrapped around their shoulders, perform the Harlem Shake: a dance form that originated in the United States in the early 1980s but has recently gone viral online as a popular meme.
Tunisian families have begun to dread knocks on their doors, or late-night phone calls, fearing that the messenger will bear the news that their son has been smuggled out of the country to join the “jihad” in Syria.