Saturday, June 22, 2019

UK advises against all travel to South Sudan: "If you're in South Sudan, you should leave if it's safe to do so"

The UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to South Sudan: "If you’re in South Sudan, you should leave if it’s safe to do so". Here is a copy of the advice published at the website UK GOV.

The Government of the United Kingdom 
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 
Website www.gov.uk

Foreign travel advice
South Sudan

Summary

Still current at: 21 June 2019
Updated: 10 May 2019
Latest update: Summary - removal of information on scheduled formation of a new government on 12 May 2019

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to South Sudan. If you’re in South Sudan, you should leave if it’s safe to do so.

There are daily reports of fighting between armed groups across the country, and regular reports of serious criminality in Juba. There’s no official government curfew in Juba, but the British Embassy and most international organisations observe a self-imposed curfew, the timing of which changes in response to the situation.

Juba Airport is open and commercial flights are operating, but you should check flight schedules with airlines before travelling to the airport. Timings are subject to change at short notice. You should make sure you have a valid visa before travelling.

Consular support is severely limited in South Sudan. The British Embassy in Juba does not have a consular section. If you are in South Sudan and need urgent help from the UK Government, contact the British High Commission in Nairobi.

If you choose to remain you should monitor this travel advice, subscribe to email alerts for updates, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

You should be vigilant of the local security situation, monitor the local media, and stay in a safe location. Most international organisations in South Sudan employ a security manager to monitor the situation and keep employees safe.

You should make sure you have comprehensive contingency plans that don’t rely on support from the Embassy, including a stock of essential supplies and up-to-date travel documents and visas. If you’re concerned about your safety, you should contact the FCO on +44 207 008 1500.

Further deterioration in the security situation remains a real possibility, and could be prompted by a number of factors including developments in the fragile economy and the ongoing peace process. In the event of a serious deterioration, similar to those of July 2016 and December 2013, routes in and out of South Sudan may be blocked, Juba airport may be closed or inaccessible, and flights may be suspended at short notice. Regional developments may also increase the unpredictability of infrastructure and transport, as happened recently when events in Sudan led to the temporary closure of South Sudan’s airspace. The main road connecting Juba to Uganda is extremely dangerous, with regular reports of car crashes and attacks on vehicles by armed groups.

Terrorist attacks in South Sudan can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

The security situation across South Sudan remains volatile with fighting escalating recently in parts of the country. Weapons are plentiful and easily obtained in South Sudan and criminals are often armed. Many armed men who are without jobs or have not been paid are resorting to criminality. Drive-by thefts by individuals or groups on motorbikes have been reported.
South Sudan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for aid workers; over 100 have been killed since the conflict began in 2013, and there have been other violent incidents including arbitrary detentions and kidnappings, although these have mostly affected South Sudanese or regional nationals. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to South Sudan, however if you decide to travel, you should make sure you have carefully considered the threat and have reasonable, proportionate mitigation measures in place.

Local travel

During the rainy season (June to October/November) most roads outside of Juba become impassable, and some parts of the country can become inaccessible.

There are daily reports of fighting between armed groups across the country. Criminal attacks have taken place on the main Juba-Nimule road, which is one of the main supply routes from Uganda into South Sudan. There are mined areas and unexploded ordnance in parts of the country, including in and around Juba.

If you’re currently in South Sudan you should exercise your own judgment, based on your knowledge of the local situation, media reporting, or advice from the UN. Our advice is that you should leave South Sudan immediately if it’s safe to do so.

Our ability to provide assistance outside Juba is severely limited. If you’re concerned about your safety, you should contact the FCO on +44 207 008 1500 or by email at crisis@fco.gsi.gov.uk.

Road travel

Driving conditions and standards in South Sudan are well below those in the UK and other European countries. Very few roads are surfaced and maintained. Residential areas usually have dirt roads. At night, there is almost no street lighting and many vehicles have no lights. Roads are used by pedestrians, donkey-carts and rickshaw-style cabs, as well as motor vehicles. Checkpoints, manned by armed men, demanding money from drivers and passengers are common, particularly after dark.

There is a high risk of being involved in a traffic accident when using public transport, as many vehicles are unsafe. There are many car crashes on the main road from Juba to Uganda, especially near the border, where drivers switch from driving on one side of the road to the other (in South Sudan they drive on the right).

Although drivers should have a licence and insurance, many don’t have these. Make sure you have adequate insurance.

Air travel

You can find a list of incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network. An internal flight by a South Sudanese airline crashed in March 2017, although there were no fatalities.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of every individual airline, but the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices.

This list isn’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

Political situation

Following the July 2016 crisis, when fighting broke out and the First Vice President was forced to flee the country, the political and security situation has remained volatile. Interlinked national and local level conflicts continue to drive a dire humanitarian situation across the country.

If you choose to remain in the country, you should follow political developments closely, and observe any curfews in place. In the event of civil disorder, stay at home and restrict your movements as much as possible, especially after dark. Avoid public gatherings, political rallies and protests.

There are credible reports of border incursions and engagements involving armed actors along all of South Sudan’s frontiers, and you should exercise extreme caution in the country’s border areas. A US journalist was killed in August 2017 near the town of Kaya close to the Ugandan border during a gunfight between government forces and armed rebels.

Economic situation

The economy remains in decline, which has led armed men to turn to criminality, including in Juba. Extortion at checkpoints by armed men, particularly after dark, is common. South Sudan is an extremely difficult environment for businesses and non-government organisations (NGOs) to operate in. A British national was killed on a NGO compound in February 2015 and foreign nationals have been subject to harassment, sexual assault, and crime.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks in South Sudan can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by conflicts in Iraq , Libya, Somalia and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially if you intend to visit religious areas.

Carry a form of photo identification with you at all times, including colour copies to hand over to immigration or traffic police if required.

There are severe penalties for drug trafficking in South Sudan.

All photography including on a camera phone requires a formal permit from the Ministry of Information. Don’t take photographs close to government buildings, military installations, public utilities (including petrol stations), and other sensitive areas (bridges, airports). Many plain clothes public security officers operate across South Sudan. Two foreign nationals were followed, harassed and arrested by the authorities in Juba after photographing a petrol station.

A number of British nationals have been arrested over commercial disputes, even where the individual has no direct link to the ongoing dispute. Some others have been approached with fraudulent commercial scams. There have been credible reports of increased harassment, temporary detention and expulsion of foreign nationals including NGO staff and journalists entering and leaving Juba airport by South Sudan security services linked to visa and work permit issues. You should exercise caution at all times.

Society is socially conservative. Homosexuality and extra marital relations are not culturally accepted.

Natural disasters

South Sudan suffers from both drought and flash flooding, which can make some parts of the country inaccessible by road.

Money

Credit/debit cards aren’t widely accepted and very few businesses will accept travellers’ cheques. It’s very difficult to get cash against credit cards at banks or to use them in shops and restaurants. Make sure you have enough cash in US Dollars (clean, unblemished notes dated 2009 onwards). Juba is comparatively expensive; one night’s accommodation in an international standard hotel can be up to $200 and vehicle rental can be from $150 per day.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

To read further about Entry requirements, Health, Foreign travel checklist, Travel safety, Further help, click here for a print copy of the entire report:

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