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South Sudan

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​​Summary

  • Do not travel to South Sudan, including Juba, because of instability, ongoing conflict and a deterioration of law and order.
  • Armed conflict, including attacks on civilian populations, is either ongoing or at risk of breaking out with little warning across the country.
  • In the current environment invasive security measures (including curfews and roadblocks) can be introduced locally and without advance notice.
  • If you are in South Sudan, we strongly urge you to leave if it is safe to do so.
  • If, despite our advice, you travel to, or remain, in South Sudan, be aware that the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services is extremely limited. Australia does not have resident diplomatic representation in South Sudan. The Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is responsible for South Sudan. See Where to get help.
  • Border areas between South Sudan and Sudan remain vulnerable to civil unrest and military activity. There have been direct military confrontations between South Sudan and Sudan since early 2012 in border regions. The border between South Sudan and Ethiopia has seen a recent escalation of intercommunal violence, including the mass abduction of children from Ethiopian territory by armed South Sudanese elements in April 2016. The border region remains unstable.
  • Landmines have been laid in rural areas in many parts of the country.
  • Given the extremely dangerous security situation in South Sudan, you should register with the Australian Government so we can contact you in an emergency. See Where to get help.

Entry and exit

The airport at Juba is subject to closure at short notice. Check with your employer or security provider for the latest on the operation of the airport and the security situation. 

Major land border crossings between South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda may be subject to closure without warning. South Sudan's borders with all of its neighbouring states are unpredictable.

If, despite our advice, you travel to South Sudan, you are required to hold a valid visa before arriving. You will not be permitted to fly to Juba without a valid visa.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions for South Sudan (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate for South Sudan for the most up-to-date information. South Sudan does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Australia. 

South Sudan is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommended that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to South Sudan (see Health). You may be required to present your Yellow Fever Vaccination card upon arrival.

For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Do not travel to South Sudan due to political instability and ongoing conflict. Many thousands of people have been killed since violence began in December 2013. The security situation is particularly volatile and may deteriorate with little warning. 

Information for Australians in Juba

Be aware that South Sudanese officials may scrutinise the travel documents of dual nationals. This may lead to delays at the airport. Previously, some dual nationals have been prevented from departing.

In the event of civil unrest of conflict, shelter in place, avoid movement on the streets, and monitor the media. Register your presence on Smartraveller to help us contact you if this becomes necessary. If you're aware of other Australians in South Sudan who may not be registered, encourage them to do so as soon as possible.

Curfews can be implemented in Juba with little or no warning.

Areas outside of Juba: Instability and widespread conflict continues outside of Juba and there is a serious risk of attacks across the country. In addition to the activities of armed groups, the danger posed by intercommunal violence, cattle raids and banditry remains high across South Sudan.

Border areas with Sudan: Border areas between South Sudan and Sudan remain particularly vulnerable to civil unrest, tribal violence, military activity and armed conflict. Since April 2012, there have been outbreaks of conflict in border regions with Sudan between the military forces of South Sudan and Sudan. There is ongoing violence on the border with Sudan's South Kordofan state. There is a serious risk of attacks in the states of Upper Nile and Unity.

Border areas with Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR): The security situation in South Sudan's border areas with Ethiopia (including Upper Nile and Jonglei states), Kenya, Uganda, the DRC and the Central African Republic remains volatile and extremely dangerous. Armed militias are present in these areas.

The border between South Sudan and Ethiopia has seen an escalation of intercommunal violence in 2016. Cattle raids and small scale clashes are common in the area. In late April 2016, the unrest and sporadic violence resulted in over 200 deaths following an incursion from armed South Sudanese elements. Further violence is possible. The border region remains unstable.

Foreigners in South Sudan could be targeted in response to national and international events. Keep a low profile, avoid demonstrations and monitor the media and other local sources of information about the safety and security environment and possible new risks and threats.

Avoid all rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Invasive security measures (including curfews and roadblocks) can be introduced locally and without advance notice.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate, and could occur in areas frequented by foreigners. 

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as key transport installations including airports and railways, buildings associated with foreign governments and companies or international organisations, oil installations, hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, marketplaces, places of worship, outdoor recreation events and tourist areas. 

As security remains high at official facilities, terrorists may turn towards easier targets, such as residential compounds.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Crime

There is widespread violent crime, including kidnapping, armed robbery, car-jacking and sexual assault, throughout South Sudan. The security risk is especially high in Juba, which has also seen a recent increase in car-jacking and gun crime, including compound invasions and attacks on places frequented by foreigners, such as hotels and restaurants. 

Criminal activity is prevalent at all times of the day.

Banditry occurs in many rural areas.

Due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, if you are a victim of violent crime, especially rape, seek immediate medical assistance outside of South Sudan.

Money and valuables

South Sudan is a cash-based society. Credit and debit cards, travellers cheques, and cash cards are not accepted in South Sudan. Be prepared to pay cash (local currency or post-2006 US dollars) for all purchases in South Sudan, including hotel bills. US currency issued prior to 2006 or marked notes will not be accepted. There are no international ATMs currently available in Juba.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible. You can either:

Local travel

Road travel

Road travel can be particularly dangerous. Consult your employer or security provider about any road travel.

Driving in South Sudan is dangerous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles and inadequate street lighting. Avoid using public transport as many vehicles are badly maintained and driving standards can be poor.

More information: Road safety and driving

Roadblocks and checkpoints (official and unofficial) are common throughout South Sudan, including in Juba.

If travelling by road verify local security conditions and road conditions beforehand.

Landmines: Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a danger throughout South Sudan. Only use main roads and paths labelled as cleared by a competent de-mining authority.

During the wet season (July to November) roads, including highways, may become impassable as road conditions deteriorate.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in South Sudan.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to the local laws of South Sudan, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and can't do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular services charter. South Sudan is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations or on Consular Relations. This may limit the provision of consular services in South Sudan.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas.

Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Some activities not considered criminal in Australia could be illegal in South Sudan and attract severe penalties, including death sentences, long jail terms and corporal punishment.

If you are engaged in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), you should seek professional advice and ensure you are aware of your rights and responsibilities.

Be aware that the judiciary and court system in South Sudan are rudimentary. In addition, there are not many lawyers in Juba and even fewer elsewhere in South Sudan. Legal proceedings may therefore be lengthy and ineffective.

Taking photographs of any kind, including with a mobile phone, is illegal in South Sudan without a permit. Government buildings and infrastructure are particularly sensitive. Permits may be obtained from the Ministry of Information.

Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties may include imprisonment. Homosexual activity is frowned upon by some members of the community, and may lead to harassment by the public and/or police.

More information: LGBTI travellers

The death penalty is applicable in South Sudan for some crimes.

Penalties for drug offences are severe in South Sudan, and may include the death penalty.

Local customs

Conservative standards of dress and behaviour are expected in South Sudan, particularly in rural areas. Take care not to offend and, if in doubt, seek local advice.

Information for dual nationals

While dual nationality is recognised, Australians holding South Sudanese citizenship will be regarded as South Sudanese in the first instance and therefore may find they have limited capacity to notify the Australian government of their situation.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition.

More information:

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are basic in Juba and inadequate elsewhere. Specialised doctors, surgeons and operating facilities are inadequate in Juba and do not exist elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals generally require up-front payment before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities (such as Nairobi or Kampala) would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.

Health risks

There have been ongoing outbreaks of polio in countries across the Horn of Africa. Ensure you have completed a primary course of polio vaccination and receive a booster dose prior to travel. If you are unsure of your polio vaccination status, check with your doctor or travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before you depart.

Malaria is a risk throughout the year in all parts of South Sudan. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, river blindness and African sleeping sickness) also occur. Take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Consult your doctor about taking prophylaxis against malaria.

South Sudan is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. Be vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to South Sudan. See Entry and exit for important information about vaccination certificate requirements.

More information: Department of Health

Outbreaks of cholera in Juba and other population centres in the country have occurred periodically in recent years. Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, meningococcal disease, viral hemorrhagic fevers, Rift Valley fever and shigella) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

The Consular services charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

If, despite our advice you do travel to South Sudan, you should be aware that the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services in South Sudan is extremely limited. Australia does not have resident diplomatic representation in South Sudan.

You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is accredited to South Sudan:

Australian Embassy, Addis Ababa

Turkish compound (off Cape Verde street)
Bole Subcity, Woreda 3
PO Box 3715
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Telephone: +251 11 667 2678
Fax: +251 11 667 2868
Email: adba.consular@dfat.gov.au
Website: ethiopia.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Flooding occurs frequently in South Sudan, particularly during the rainy season (July to November). During this time, fresh drinking water and food could be in short supply and transport and communication infrastructure also is likely to be affected. The risk of contracting a water-borne disease could persist after the water recedes.

Northern areas of South Sudan often experience extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year, the temperature can exceed 50˚C.

Sandstorms and dust storms can occur.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, you should follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the media for up-to-date information.