Safety and Security
The Department of State has issued a Travel Warning for Sudan advising U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Sudan, urging U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan States, and advising U.S. citizens to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan.
On January 1, 2008, a group of assailants shot and killed two U.S. Embassy employees – a USAID officer and a Sudanese national driver. The attack was found to be ideologically motivated, and the assailants were convicted and sentenced under Sudanese law in 2009. The four men have since escaped from prison and two are still at large.
Aid workers and government employees from Western countries have been the targets of kidnappings in the Darfur region. In May 2010, a U.S. citizen employed by a humanitarian relief organization was kidnapped in Darfur, and was held for several months before being released.
Since June 2012, there have been increased incidents of anti-government protests, resulting in the arrest of at least one U.S. citizen. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds and demonstrations as they can become confrontational and quickly escalate into violence. Demonstrations may also occur in other areas of the country, and we recommend U.S. citizens throughout Sudan exercise caution.
Terrorist groups are known to operate in Sudan, and these groups seek opportunities to carry out attacks against U.S. and European interests. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings. You should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and locations where westerners are known to congregate, and commercial operations associated with U.S. or Western interests. Terrorists are known to have targeted both official facilities and residential compounds. You should exercise utmost caution at all times.
The Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of the Khartoum area, including emergency assistance, is severely limited.Many areas of Sudan are extremely difficult to access, and travel in these areas is hazardous. Outside the major cities infrastructure is extremely poor, medical care is limited, and there are few facilities for tourists.
Conflict among various armed groups and government forces continues throughout the entire Darfur region. Banditry and lawlessness are prevalent in all of Darfur. Over one and a half million Darfuris live in camps for internally displaced persons, and receive humanitarian assistance for basic needs such as food, water, and shelter. Expatriate humanitarian workers have been the targets of kidnappings, carjackings, and burglaries.
Occasional clashes between armed groups representing communal interests continue to occur in areas of central and eastern Sudan. Banditry also occurs. Sudan is Africa’s third-largest country in physical area, and shares porous land borders with Chad, the Central African Republic, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Conflict in these countries occasionally spills over into Sudan.
The secession of South Sudan in July 2011 has been accompanied by an increase in armed violence in states on the South Sudan border, particularly in Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile. In ongoing disputes in these regions, the Sudanese Armed Forces have conducted airstrikes throughout the region, and have engaged in ground clashes with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army - Northern Sector. Non-governmental organizations have been expelled from the areas, and the United Nations operates with minimal staffing in government-controlled areas only.
U.S. citizens considering sea travel in Sudan's coastal waters should exercise caution as there have been incidents of armed attacks and robberies by unknown groups in recent years, including one involving U.S. vessels. Exercise extreme caution, as these groups are considered armed and dangerous. When transiting in and around the Horn of Africa and/or in the Red Sea near Yemen, vessels should convoy in groups and maintain good communications contact at all times. Marine channels 13 and 16 VHF-FM are international call-up and emergency channels, and are commonly monitored by ships at sea. 2182 MHz is the HF international call-up and emergency channel. Wherever possible, travel in trafficked sea-lanes, and avoid loitering in or transiting isolated or remote areas. In case of emergency, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In the event of an attack, consider activating Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons.
The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by extremist to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.
MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant, and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battlewatch captain at phone number 011-973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events are also to be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.