Wednesday, August 13, 2014

War can be profitable

And it is not just the arms dealers and other merchants of death that profit from it. The Tunisians along the Libyan border have show a good deal of entrepreneurial skill during Libya's troubles.
Business is going well for El Amen Co. The family-run business makes two or three lucrative corpse deliveries every day, always in one direction: from Tunisia to Libya. The recent eruption of full-scale fighting in Tripoli and beyond means even more patients are traveling across the border with Tunisia for treatment. For those who can't be saved, El Amen stands ready to take them home. Lately, it's been as many as five a day.

"We do whatever is necessary to get the body back to Libya," said Fouad Trabolsi, the firm's director. "We offer a same-day service."

Until 2012 he was an ambulance driver. His entrepreneurial streak emerged when he saw a newspaper advertisement placed by the Libyan consulate in Tunisia. It was looking for someone willing to transport an unusual cargo, the corpses of Libyans who died on Tunisian soil, back to their families.

His company has the contract for southern Tunisia, while another company deals with any deaths in the north. He employs six drivers, three men to carry out Islamic religious rites to prepare the bodies and four others to help with administration. The Libyan embassy confirmed the arrangement, saying Trabolsi charges a pretty penny for his services: $875 per repatriation.

El Amen is just one of dozens of companies that have popped up since 2011 as part of the blossoming ecosystem of Tunisian businesses catering to Libyan patients. With many hospitals and clinics in Libya suffering from staffing and supply shortages, hundreds of Libyans travel to their much more stable neighbor every week for all kinds of health care — whether in times of peace or war. There are more than half a dozen private clinics in Sfax alone...

"All Libyans come here from both conflicting sides, but they never speak about Libya fighting or politics," said Mohamed, a Libyan from Benghazi who recently moved to Sfax. "They just come for treatment, and I hope that all Libyans come here in order not to fight again. Tunisia is a country of law and order."
True, the really big bucks come from the various munitions needed for a fight, but it is nice to see a decent profit being made by decent people in Tunisia.


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