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Reopening of the land border between Algeria and Tunisia, after more than two years of Covid

The land border between Algeria and Tunisia reopened on Friday after more than two years of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Tunisian authorities hope to welcome more than a million Algerian visitors this summer, the majority of them tourists.

A few cars and signs celebrating Algerian-Tunisian friendship. The reopening of the land border between the two countries after more than two years of closure went smoothly on Friday July 15 near Tabarka, according to AFP journalists on the Tunisian side.

Tunisian authorities hope to welcome more than a million Algerian visitors this summer, the majority of them tourists, at the nine crossing points between the two countries reopened at midnight Thursday evening.

The reopening of land borders, closed due to the Covid-19 health crisis, was announced on July 5 by President Abdelmajid Tebboune to his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saïed.

The Melloula border post, near Tabarka (north-west), is the most important in Tunisian territory, according to Jamel Zrig, a national guard official, with 25% of Algerians entering via this border in 2019.

“Long live Algerian-Tunisian fraternity,” proclaimed a large banner in the border area.

“We are like one body”

Visitors had to have their Covid documents checked for compliance in a building topped with the inscription: “Welcome to our Algerian brothers, in their second country, Tunisia”.

“It did something very good for us because we were looking forward to it. Yes, we are very happy,” Jana Galila, a retired Algerian tourist, told AFP.

The Algerian Gharbi Larbiya comes to visit his family in Tunisia and says he is also very happy. “We are brothers with the Tunisians. I can’t do without them, we are like one body”.

Other Algerians have chosen Tunisia because they cannot travel elsewhere. Like Zacharia Nechadi, who underlines “that there are not many visas granted this year” by other countries and to take advantage of the fact that Tunisia “is close to Algeria and very pleasant”.

In 2019, nearly three million Algerians came to Tunisia, i.e. a third of foreign visitors in this year marked by a strong recovery in tourism.

They had chosen the neighboring country to visit, treat themselves or find family, while the ties between the two states have traditionally been very close since the Algerian war against the French colonial power (1954-1962).

Large Algerian cities, such as Annaba or Constantine, are located not far from the border with Tunisia.

Algerians particularly appreciate the seaside resorts of Sousse and Hammamet (east) as well as the holy city of Kairouan (center), and like to spend the end of year celebrations in Tunisia.

Land borders had been closed by Algeria on March 17, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, remaining open only for emergencies.

With AFP