COVID-19 AND THE U.S. RESPONSE

For more than a half century, the United States has been the largest contributor to global health security. We built the foundation upon which the global health system is based, contributing more than $140 billion in global health assistance in the 21st century alone.  Through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. government’s action, our foreign assistance efforts in response to the pandemic continue across the board. The Secretary of State recently announced $162 million in new International Disaster Assistance for the COVID-19 response, bringing our total committed from the State Department and USAID to more than $1 billion since the outbreak began. This funding will save lives by improving public health education, protecting healthcare facilities, and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity around the world.

US EMBASSY TUNIS RESPONDS

U.S. Department of State:  Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Supports Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Tunisia
COVID-19 heavily affects lives of refugees and asylum seekers among vulnerable population groups in Tunisia.  Most of them cannot pay for their rent, food and medicines for their families. Thanks to U.S. Department of State:  Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, UNHCR is stepping up support for refugees and asylum seekers to meet their current and emerging needs to sustain their lives. (Source)

Tunisia JOBS Helps A PPE Manufacturer Acquire Raw Materials During COVID-19
Created in 2010, Consomed is a manufacturing company specialized in developing and producing single-use personal protective equipment and sterile surgical linens for the healthcare sector.
The company is based in Kairouan and collaborates with healthcare practitioners to ensure that its devices and equipment provide the maximum level of protection. Consomed has CE, ISO 9001, and ISO 13485 certifications and has been recognized by the MOH for its adherence to Tunisian Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). (Full story)

Ambassador Remarks at Medical Equipment Donation to Tunisia Ceremony
While we all continue to face unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19, Tunisia has been extremely successful in combatting and preventing its spread.  I hope to see Tunisia continue on this trajectory, and that it remains an example for other nations to follow. (Full text)

Assistance Unit Project Raises the Number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Applying for the Start-up Act Label
The US Embassy in Tunis Office has partnered with the Tunisian Ministry of Technology of Communication and Digital Transformation and Smart Capital, the Startup Tunisia operator, to raise awareness about the goals of the Start-up Act across Tunisia.  (Full text)

COVID-19 Response: The EFE Foundation launches the national initiative “sa7ti.tn” with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Tunis
The Education for Employment (EFE) Foundation and its local Tunisian affiliate launched a national initiative “Sa7ti.tn,” as part of the national effort to combat COVID-19.

Aimed at all hospital, medical and paramedical staff, www.sa7ti.tn is a free online training platform dedicated to the care of COVID-19 patients. This project, carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Health Professions, and with the support of the United States Embassy in Tunis, aims to raise awareness and train health practitioners to better protect themselves in the fight against COVID-19. (Full text)

USAID/Tunisia FIRST Program Helps Ministry of Finance Stay Responsive, Connects Regional Offices
The US Government’s USAID/Fiscal Reform for a Strong Tunisia (FIRST) program has installed a secure webcasting system at the Ministry of Finance, allowing it to virtually connect 13 regional offices throughout Tunisia.

USAID/Tunisia FIRST Program Ensures Continuation of Public Finance Functions
The US Government’s USAID/Fiscal Reform for a Strong Tunisia (FIRST)  program has installed secure software for secure data communication for 25 senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, so that public finance functions can continue during this time of crisis.

USAID/Tunisia FIRST Program Helps Forecast Economic Impacts of COVID-19
The US Government’s USAID/Fiscal Reform for a Strong Tunisia (FIRST) program has helped the Ministry of Finance with modeling, forecasting and analysis of the economic impact of COVID19.  Preparing for the future requires accurate information.

USAID/Tunisia FIRST Program Helps Ministry of Finance’ System Go Virtual
The US Government’s USAID/Fiscal Reform for a Strong Tunisia (FIRST) program has directed $800,000 towards supporting the Ministry of Finance’s e-filing and e-payment system, to respond to new demands caused by COVID-19.

USAID Tunisia Jobs Supports Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC.tn)
The US Government’s USAID Tunisia Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success (Tunisia JOBS) program supports the 700 million dinar Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC.tn) equity fund to mitigate the economic impact of the health crisis.(Full text)

USAID / Ministry of Local Affairs Effort to Equip All Municipalities With Sanitation Gear
In coordination with the Ministry of Local Affairs, the US Government is buying sanitation kits for municipal trash collectors and janitors in 151 of Tunisia’s 350 municipalities (nearly half of all municipalities in Tunisia) through its local governance USAID program TADEEM – Tunisia Accountability, Decentralization, and Effective Municipalities.(Full text)

U.S. Congress Representatives Train Tunisian Deputies on COVID-19 Crisis Management
Within its MEPI funded project to support political parties in Tunisia, the International Republican Institute (IRI) organized in cooperation with the House Democracy Partnership a third virtual exchange between the U.S. Congress and Tunisian Members of Parliament. (Full text)

$25 million Grant for Covid-19 Prevention and Response
Today, Ambassador Donald Blome, notified the Tunisian government that the United States Government has committed an additional $25 million of bilateral Economic Support Funding to strengthen the Government of Tunisia’s urgent COVID-19 prevention and response efforts.(Full text)

Ambassador Blome Discussed with Tunisia’s Minister of Finance, Mohamed Nizar Yaiche, the Economy, U.S. Assistance, and COVID-19 Pandemic
In an April 14 call, Ambassador Blome and Tunisia’s Minister of Finance, Mohamed Nizar Yaiche, discussed the latest disbursement of IMF funds and the government’s efforts to support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Full text)

MEPI Partner Conducts COVID-19 Crisis Trainings
The International Republican Institute held three online trainings under its MEPI Strengthening Trust & Accountability in Tunisia program on crisis communication.  (Full text)

MEPI Project Dedicates a Newsletter to Inform Citizens about Municipal Safety Measures
MEPI-funded Nebni.tn project devoted its newsletter to benchmark and cover the safety practices that the municipalities of Medenine are adopting in light of the current crisis. (Full text)

TAPP Project Launches an Online ChatBot to Educate about COVID-19
A group of Tunisian youth from Sfax and Nabeul participating in the Assistance Unit funded Tunisian Accountability and Political Participation (TAPP) project, designed a chatbot application on Facebook Messenger. (Full text)

Embassy Local Partner Mobilizes Youth to Counter COVID-19
In an effort to support the Tunisian government’s efforts to fight COVID-19 pandemic, through its Tunisian Accountability and Political Participation (TAPP) project Action Positive organization mobilized volunteers to perform a host of community service projects. Participants conducted large-scale operations to sterilize public spaces in the delegates of Midaa, Sfax, and Kelibia. They also collaborated with different municipalities and delegates to maintain safe social distancing and prevent large gatherings in front of public administrations.

Additionally, on April 6 TAPP volunteers supported the efforts of the Ministry of Social Affairs during the distribution of social assistance by digitalizing and organizing the data of citizens receiving assistance. TAPP volunteers conducted street marketing campaigns to raise awareness about COVID-19 measures.

A MEPI Grantee Launches COVID-19 Awareness Campaign
Within the framework of its MEPI funded NEBNI.TN project, Jasmine Foundation organized a series of one-to-one awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Djerba and Ben Guerdane. Jasmine Foundation reached more than 2000 citizens by distributing brochures and posters with the World Health Organization’s prevention advice. It also posts a blog to monitor and highlight what different municipalities are doing to protect local citizens’ health and safety. Lastly, Jasmine Foundation developed an independent online awareness campaign Ched_Darek (Stay Home) that simplifies important information for the public and tackles topics such as mental health during confinement.

Embassy Local Partner Reaches 22,000 People with Virtual Festival
“Fanni Raghman Anni” organization launched a virtual festival through its social media pages to encourage citizens to respect the COVID-19 confinement measures. The festival provided a rich and varied program of daily art and social activities, created a space for learning, communication, social resilience and mutual understanding for all components of society. The festival was a creative solidarity initiative that aims to strengthen the social fabric and to support artists affected by the crisis. More than 22,000 people follow the virtual festival.

Inmates Produce 750 Masks a Day Thanks to U.S. Embassy Support
Tunisia’s Directorate General of Prison and Rehabilitation (DGPR) confirmed that, in an effort to contain the coronavirus, the seven prison facilities that have a tailor vocational program are producing medical masks using sewing machines donated by the U.S. Government. More than 750 protective masks are assembled daily based on the required health standards and issued to the Ministry of Health, the DGPR staff, and inmates. (Full text) (French)

U.S. Company Cisco Contributes to COVID-19 Response:  American tech company Cisco donated video-conference equipment to government agencies to work remotely during the lockdown to ensure continuity of operations. (Full text)

U.S. Provides 1.7 Million Dinars Assistance to Tunisia to Respond to Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
Tunis – The United States Government has committed $600,000 (approximately 1.7 million dinars) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Tunisia from the Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The United States is providing these funds to the World Health Organization (WHO) to support key program areas identified by the Government of Tunisia and UNICEF.  Support is also being provided to the Ministry of Health to finalize its COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. (Full text)  (French)

U.S. Embassy repatriated 135 Americans to the United States: Thanks to the help of many volunteers, the U.S. Embassy was able to repatriate 135 Americans to the United States despite an absence of all commercial flights in Tunisia, and also bring home 23 Tunisians who were on US Government-sponsored exchange programs across the United States. We are proud to have made it possible for Americans and Tunisians to be safe at home.

Embassy staff were magnificent! They were pleasant, courteous, responsive and helpful in every way possible. Their impeccable professionalism turned what could have been an ordeal into a truly smooth and painless process.
-Bill Granara, U.S. Citizen

Assistance Unit Project Provides 24/7 Violence Against Women Hotline During COVID-19 Confinement: The Ministry of Women Affairs (MoWA) announced on March 23 that the 24-hour/7-day toll-free hotline will be functional during the COVID-19 confinement period to receive and manage complaints from women victims of violence. These services are secured by a multidisciplinary team from the Ministry with the support of the partnering organizations thanks to the Political Section’s Assistance Unit-funded project Safety and Women’s Advancement (SAWA).

This announcement came as a response to the concerns that the implementing partner, the American Bar Association Rule of Law (ABA ROLI), raised concerning the increase of domestic abuse due to recent measures of confinement. On March 29, Minister of Women Affairs Asma Sehiri Laabidi announced during a radio interview that the number of calls received from 23 to 27 March multiplied 3 times, and the number of calls related to physical and verbal violence increased five times compared to the same period last year.

The SAWA project ensures a capacity development for service providers’ staff at violence against women listening centers and shelters, enables the extension of the 1899 hotline’s operational hours from 5PM to 7AM. The project also works on finalizing a cloud-based software platform with gender-based violence data that will provide the hotline operators with the needed information to assist the callers.

American Center Virtual Event: Super Alumni Stepping Up During the Covid19 Crisis
Tunisian alumni of US Government sponsored exchange programs who are taking extraordinary efforts to help their communities in this pandemic.  Sina Haj Amor discussed awareness and recommend good sources of information on preventing the spread of the virus, and Adnan Belhaj Yahia discussed his 3D-printed protective masks initiative. (facebook)

U.S. Embassy Partner Launches a COVID-19 Violations Platform:
Building on its MEPI-funded platform billkamcha.com that serves as a tool for whistleblowers to report on corruption cases, I-WATCH is currently using the platform to allow citizens to anonymously report violations of public health measures, such as large gatherings, operating restaurants and coffee shops, and quarantine violations.  I-WATCH publishes the reports online, and informs responsible authorities for actions. More than 280 reports were published and communicated to the authorities in the first five days of the site.