What makes Sudan, South a unique country to travel to?
The Republic of South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. The capital city is Juba. The U.S. Department of State Travel Warning for South Sudan strongly warns against all travel to South Sudan due to the deteriorating security situation. Those who choose to remain in South Sudan or to visit despite this advice should be aware that the U.S. Embassy in Juba has further drawn down its personnel as of January 3, 2014, and therefore can offer only very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan. Because of the draw down in personnel in Juba, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, [Tel.: 254 (20) 363 6451 or 254 (20) 363 6170, e-mail: Kenya_acs@state.gov ] is available to assist U.S. citizens in South Sudan who need assistance; in an emergency, contact the U.S. Embassy in Juba (Tel.: 211-955-456-050).
If you seek information about U.S. citizens services in South Sudan from the Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, please email: SouthSudanEmergencyUSC@state.gov.
South Sudan’s independence came after many years of civil war between forces in the south and the Government of Sudan. Despite the signing of numerous agreements in September 2012 regarding oil transport, border security, economic and financial matters, a safe demilitarized border zone, and the final status of disputed areas, the relationship between the two countries remains fragile.
South Sudan is one of the world’s least developed countries. Its economy relies largely on revenues from oil exports and trade with its neighbor, Sudan. Oil production stopped in January 2012 following a dispute with Sudan over transit fees, further reducing the country’s foreign reserves considerably and forcing it further into debt. Production of oil in South Sudan resumed in April 2013.
The Security Council established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) under a Chapter VII mandate in 2011. UNMISS consists of approximately 7,600 uniformed staff, 900 international civilian staff, 1,300 local civilian staff, and 400 UN Volunteers. Numerous UN agencies and non-governmental organizations provide humanitarian and development assistance. A recent UNSC resolution authorized 5,500 additional peacekeepers and 423 additional police.
Electricity, telephone, and telecommunications, roads, and other forms of infrastructure are unreliable or sparse in many areas. Civilian institutions, including the criminal justice system, are rudimentary and not presently functioning at a level consistent with international standards. There are no government services available in many parts of the country. South Sudan operates as a cash economy, and tourist facilities are limited throughout the country.
High unemployment and severe economic downturn have encouraged criminal activity. Following an increase in security-related incidents in Juba, the government-imposed a curfew of 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. U.S. embassy is observing this curfew to better ensure the safety of its personnel. You should try to avoid crowded public areas and public gatherings, and avoid traveling alone if possible. Report all incidents of crime to the South Sudanese police.
Carjackings and banditry occur in South Sudan. Travel outside of Juba should be undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles so that there is a backup in case of mechanical failure or other emergency.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may be breaking local law.
While you are traveling in South Sudan, you are subject to its laws, even if you are a U.S. citizen. You may be questioned or detained by police if you don’t have your passport with you.
South Sudan’s security services commit arbitrary arrests and often detain foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens. The country’s legal system is rudimentary and sometimes ineffective. U.S. citizens may have little recourse to justice should they be detained and legal proceedings can be lengthy and seemingly subjective. Contractual and other business disputes with local partners may not be resolved in a manner that is consistent with international practices and judicial fairness. Security forces often operate outside civilian control, and do not always follow laws governing due process and treatment of detainees.
If you break local laws in South Sudan, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not while you’re in South Sudan. Penalties for breaking the law may be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating South Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods.Engaging in sexual conduct with persons under the age of 18 or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and international law, if you are arrested in South Sudan, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas. That said, security officials rarely contact the U.S. embassy in Juba when U.S. citizens are detained.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Persons with conditions which may require medical treatment are strongly discouraged from traveling to South Sudan. Medical facilities in Juba fall far short of western standards; outside the capital, few hospitals exist; hospitals and clinics are often poorly equipped and staffed. If you need medical treatment, you must pay cash in advance for it. Ambulance services are not available outside Juba. Not all medicines are regularly available; you should carry sufficient supplies of needed medicines in clearly-marked containers. Routine immunizations and vaccinations for diseases such as yellow fever, rabies, polio, meningitis, typhoid, and hepatitis A and B are recommended.
Malaria is prevalent in all areas of South Sudan. The strain is resistant to chloroquine and can be fatal. Consult a health practitioner before traveling, obtain suitable anti-malarial drugs, and use protective measures, such as insect repellent, protective clothing, and mosquito nets. If you become ill with a fever or a flu-like illness while in South Sudan, or within a year after departure, you should promptly seek medical care and inform your physician of your travel history and the kind of anti-malarial drugs used. For additional information about malaria and anti-malarial drugs, please see the Center for Disease Control information on malaria.
Polio cases have recently been reported in the country again after an absence since 2009.
Safety and Security
A dispute between government security forces in Juba on December 16 rapidly escalated into armed conflict and spread to other cities. The government is not at this time in full control of the territory of South Sudan and insecurity is widespread. In addition to South Sudan’s internal conflict, care should be exercised in border states between South Sudan and Sudan where tensions exist due to the long, undemarcated border.
The Government of South Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime or provide security to travelers, especially outside the capital city of Juba.
The U.S. Embassy in Juba has implemented measures to protect U.S. government personnel living and working in South Sudan. These include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles at night, and to obtain advance permission for travel outside of Juba. As a result of the deteriorating security situation, the Department of State ordered the departure of most remaining U.S. government personnel from South Sudan on January 3, 2014. Similar measures are followed by the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and some non-governmental organizations with operations in South Sudan.
Land mines remain a hazard in South Sudan, especially outside of Juba. Visitors should travel only on main roads, unless a competent de-mining authority has marked an area as clear of mines.
The Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including emergency assistance, in South Sudan is severely limited. Many areas of South Sudan are extremely difficult to access, and travel in these areas is sometimes hazardous. Less than 300 kilometers of paved roads exist in the country, which is the size of France. The infrastructure is extremely poor, and medical care is not always available or is very basic.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in South Sudan, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The following information is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Road conditions throughout South Sudan are hazardous due to erratic driver behavior, pedestrians and animals in the roadways, and vehicles that are overloaded or lack basic safety equipment. There are very few paved roads in South Sudan; most roads are narrow, rutted, and poorly maintained. Local drivers often do not observe conventions for the right-of-way, stop on the road without warning, and frequently exceed safe speeds for road, traffic, and weather conditions. Driving at night can be dangerous because of the lack of street lights throughout the country.
Roads in South Sudan are often impassable during the rainy season, from March or April to October or November. Take spare tires, parts, and fuel with you when traveling in remote areas, as service stations are separated by long distances.
U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling, including traffic laws. In South Sudan, vehicles have the steering wheel on the left side and drivers use the right side of the road.
Many local drivers carry no insurance despite the legal requirement that all motor vehicle operators purchase third-party liability insurance from the government. Persons involved in an accident resulting in death or injury must report the incident to the nearest police station or police officer as soon as possible. Persons found at fault can expect fines, revocation of driving privileges, and jail sentences, depending on the nature and extent of the accident. Persons convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol face fines, jail sentences, and corporal punishment.
There are no restrictions on vehicle types, including motorcycles and motorized tricycles.
Public transportation is by small buses, vans, or taxis, and is limited to within and between major towns. Many drivers of these vehicles have little training and are reckless, and the vehicles are often poorly maintained. Passenger facilities are basic and crowded. Schedules are unpublished and subject to change without notice. Travelers are encouraged to hire cars and drivers from reputable sources with qualified drivers and safe vehicles. While there is some public transit to rural communities by irregularly scheduled mini-buses, many areas lack any public transportation.
You should be extremely careful in crossing roads in South Sudan. Crosswalks do not exist, and incidents of cars striking pedestrians are common.