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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.
  • If you are in South Sudan, leave if safe to do so.
  • Armed conflict, including attacks on civilian populations, is ongoing – or at risk of breaking out with little warning – across the country. See Safety and security.
  • Local authorities can apply curfews, roadblocks and other security measures, often without notice. See Safety and security.
  • Further civil unrest and military activity in the South Sudan – Sudan border area is likely. There have been direct military confrontations between South Sudan and Sudan in border regions since early 2012. See Safety and security.
  • The border between South Sudan and Ethiopia is unstable. Intercommunal violence is common. In April 2016, armed South Sudanese abducted several children from Ethiopian territory. See Safety and security.
  • Landmines are a threat in many rural areas. See Local travel.
  • The security environment means the Australian Government can provide only extremely limited consular assistance to Australians in South Sudan. Where possible, consular services are provided by the Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. See Where to get help.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination's entry or exit requirements.

Do not travel to South Sudan, including Juba. If you're in South Sudan, depart immediately if safe to do so.

Visas

If you plan to travel to South Sudan despite our advice, you'll need a visa issued in advance. You won't be allowed to fly to Juba without a valid visa.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate for South Sudan for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

You may need a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter South Sudan. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease that is preventable by vaccination. It is endemic in South Sudan. Read Yellow fever for information on re-entry to Australia following exposure to yellow fever.

More information:

Border 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.

Borders

The airport at Juba and major land border crossings between South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda can close with little or no warning. South Sudan's borders with all of its neighbours are unpredictable.

Check with your security provider for up-to-date information and security assessments on entry points to South Sudan.

Passport

If you travel to South Sudan despite our advice, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

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.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the South Sudanese Pound (SSP). South Sudan is a cash-based society. Credit and debit cards, travellers cheques, and cash cards are not generally accepted. You'll need to pay cash (local currency or US dollars dated 2009 onwards) for all purchases, including hotel bills. There are no international ATMs in Juba.

Safety and security

Armed conflict, civil unrest and political tension

Many thousands of people have been killed since violence began in December 2013. Fighting between armed groups across the country is ongoing. There is a serious risk of attacks on civilians by armed groups. The security situation is volatile and could deteriorate further with little warning.

High levels of intercommunal violence, cattle raids, banditry and general lack of law and order across South Sudan also threaten travellers' security. National or international events could see attacks targeting foreigners.

The border areas with South Sudan’s neighbouring countries, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, remain particularly dangerous owing to armed conflict, military activity, tribal and other violence.

Local authorities can impose curfews, roadblocks and other security measures with little or no warning.

If, despite our advice, you're in South Sudan:

  • seek professional security advice
  • adopt effective personal security measures
  • keep a low profile
  • avoid all demonstrations, protests and other public gatherings
  • monitor the media for any new safety and security risks, including political events that may inflame existing tensions
  • if civil unrest of conflict erupts, shelter indoors, avoid movement on the streets, monitor the media and contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • leave South Sudan as soon as possible.

Terrorism

Attacks may be indiscriminate and could occur at any time.

Security against terror attacks at official facilities is high. Terrorists may turn towards easier targets, such as residential compounds. Other possible targets include transport hubs such as airports, railways and bus stations; buildings associated with foreign governments, multinational corporations or international organisations; oil installations; areas popular with foreigners such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars and tourist areas; and other public spaces including schools, marketplaces, places of worship and outdoor recreation events.

If, despite our advice, you're in South Sudan:

  • be alert to possible threats
  • report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • in planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided
  • monitor the media for any new or emerging threats
  • take official warnings seriously
  • follow the instructions of local authorities
  • if there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so 
  • avoid the affected area in the aftermath of an attack because of the risk of secondary attacks.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Crime

Violent crime is widespread, at all times of day. Kidnapping, murder, shootings, home invasions, armed robbery, carjacking and sexual assault are common throughout South Sudan.

The security risk is especially high in Juba, where carjacking and gun crime are frequent and include compound invasions and attacks on hotels, restaurants and other places foreigners go. Non-violent petty theft and fraud are also common, including pickpocketing, theft of items from vehicles and fraudulent currency exchanges.

There is no official government curfew in Juba, but most embassies and international organisations observe a self-imposed curfew, the timing of which varies in response to local events.

Banditry occurs in many rural areas.

If, despite our advice, you're in South Sudan:

  • travel with your vehicle's doors locked and windows up at all times
  • guard against carjacking – be alert to threats, including when stopped in traffic
  • carry only what you need - leave other valuables in a secure location
  • secure your accommodation against intruders
  • be alert to your surroundings at all times
  • 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.

Local travel

Landmines

Landmines and unexploded ordnance are a danger throughout South Sudan. Use only main roads and paths labelled as cleared by a competent de-mining authority.

Road travel

Road travel is very dangerous due to both poor road conditions and the security environment. Hazards include poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles and inadequate street lighting. Very few roads are surfaced and maintained. Pedestrians and animals often wander on or near roads. Vehicles are often poorly maintained, overloaded and weave in and out of traffic. Police coverage of roadways outside of major towns is limited. Traffic police are poorly trained. Local drivers routinely ignore traffic signals and traffic accidents are

During the wet season (July to November), road conditions deteriorate. Highways and other roads may become impassable and some parts of the country can become inaccessible for months. 

Roadblocks and checkpoints (official and unofficial) are common throughout South Sudan, including in Juba.
Diplomatic, UN and NGO drivers have been stopped and harassed at checkpoints. Checkpoints are often manned by armed men, demanding money from drivers and passengers, particularly after dark. 

If you need to travel by road, first:

  • verify local security and road conditions
  • seek local advice on possible routes
  • seek professional security advice
  • adopt effective personal security measures
  • make contingency plans.

More information: Road travel

Public transport

Avoid public transport. Many vehicles are badly maintained. Driving standards can be poor.

Air travel

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 all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and may include the death penalty.

Other laws

The judiciary and court system in South Sudan are rudimentary. Legal proceedings can be lengthy, unpredictable and ineffective.

Seek professional advice if you might engage in activities that involved local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support). Be aware of your rights and responsibilities.

Penalties for criminal offences include death, corporal punishment and long jail terms.

Activities that are illegal in South Sudan include:

  • homosexual acts - more information: LGBTI travellers
  • taking photographs of any kind without a permit from the Ministry of Information – this includes photos taken with a mobile phone.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law.

Dual nationals

South Sudan recognises dual nationality but considers its dual citizens as South Sudanese in the first instance. If you are an Australian-South Sudanese dual national and you're arrested or detained, you may not be allowed to notify the Australian Government of your situation. More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

Conservative standards of dress and behaviour are expected in South Sudan, particularly in rural areas. Homosexuality is frowned upon and may lead to harassment by the public and/or police.

Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel.

Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Polio

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.

Insect-borne diseases

Yellow fever is endemic and malaria is a risk throughout the year in all parts of South Sudan. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever, filariasis, leishmaniasis, river blindness and African sleeping sickness) also occur. 

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • get vaccinated against yellow fever before you travel
  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

HIV/AIDS 

HIV/AIDS is common. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. If you are exposed to a risk of infection, including as a victim of rape or other violent crime, seek immediate medical assistance outside of South Sudan.

Cholera and other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, tuberculosis, meningococcal disease, viral hemorrhagic fevers, Rift Valley fever and shigella) are common, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time-to-time.

Outbreaks of cholera in Juba and other population centres in the country have occurred periodically in recent years.

  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are basic in Juba and extremely limited 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.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to Nairobi, Kampala or another destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.  

Natural disasters

If there is a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.

Severe weather and climate

Flooding occurs frequently in South Sudan, particularly during the rainy season (July to November). Floods can lead to shortages of drinking water and food and can damage transport and communication infrastructure. The risk of contracting a water-borne disease persists after floodwaters recede.

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

Sandstorms, drought and dust storms occur.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: phone 999
  • Medical emergency: phone 999 or go to the nearest hospital 
  • Crime: phone 999 or visit the nearest police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government ordinarily can and can't do to help you overseas. The security situation and other factors mean the Australian Government's ability to provide consular services in South Sudan is extremely limited.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in South Sudan. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Australian Embassy, Addis Ababa

Turkish compound (off Cape Verde street)
Bole Subcity, Woreda 3
PO Box 3715
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Telephone: +251 967 941 377
Email: adba.consular@dfat.gov.au
Website: ethiopia.embassy.gov.au

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

If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information