South Sudan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 05 December 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to strongly advise Australians not to travel to South Sudan due to political instability and ongoing conflict. We advise all Australians in South Sudan to depart as soon as possible using commercial means.

South Sudan overall

Summary

  • We strongly advise you not to travel to South Sudan, including Juba, because of instability and ongoing conflict.
  • In the current environment invasive security measures (including curfews and roadblocks) can be introduced locally and without advance notice.
  • The situation across the country remains volatile, particularly in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states, and may deteriorate further.
  • You should monitor the media for events that could affect your safety.
  • We continue to advise all Australians in South Sudan to leave as soon as possible using commercial means. Due to the volatility of the situation commercial flights into and out of Juba are prone to cancellation at short notice.
  • Australians in South Sudan requiring assistance should contact the Australian High Commission in Nairobi on +254 20 427 7100 or the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, SMS +61 421 269 080, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
  • The ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services is extremely limited. Australia does not have resident diplomatic representation in South Sudan.
  • 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.
  • Landmines have been laid in rural areas in many parts of the country.
  • Given the extremely dangerous security situation in South Sudan, we strongly recommend Australians in South Sudan register their presence with the Australian Government, so we can contact you in an emergency. See Where to Get Help for further information.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

The airport in Juba is operating normally, albeit with a heavy security presence. Major land border crossings into and out of South Sudan are open. Due to the volatility of the situation, commercial flights into and out of Juba are prone to cancellation at short notice.

You should ensure you have a valid visa before arriving in South Sudan. You will not be permitted to fly from Nairobi 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 section). You will 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 has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

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. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

We strongly recommend you do not to travel to South Sudan due to political instability and ongoing conflict. Reports indicate that many thousands of people have been killed since the violence began in December 2013. The security situation is particularly volatile and may deteriorate with little warning. There is currently a night time curfew in Juba.

We continue to advise Australians in South Sudan to depart as soon as possible.

You should monitor the media for events that could affect your safety.

Areas outside of Juba: Regardless of the ceasefire agreement between the government and armed opposition, instability continues outside of Juba and there is a serious risk of attacks in the states of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei. Recent reports have indicated fighting has broken out in Western Bahr es Gazal around Mapel. There have been military operations in Malakal (Upper Nile) and Bor (Jonglei) in recent months. Bentiu (Unity) was taken by rebel forces in April 2014 and retaken by government forces in May 2014. Hundreds of people were killed, including in the hospital and morgue. We strongly advise against travel to these towns.

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 Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), currently based in the DRC and CAR, was active in the western regions of South Sudan, especially in the Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal states. Many people were killed or abducted, and thousands have been internally displaced as a result of LRA attacks.

Foreigners in South Sudan could be targeted in reaction to national and international events. You should 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.

You should avoid all rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Conflict is ongoing and in the current environment invasive security measures (including curfews and roadblocks) can be introduced locally and without advance notice.

Crime

There is widespread violent crime, including kidnappings, armed robbery, carjackings and sexual assault, throughout South Sudan. The security risk is especially high in Juba, which has also seen a recent increase in carjackings and gun crime.

Banditry occurs in many rural areas.

In Juba and state capitals, petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is common.

Due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to 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. You should 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 that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Review the General advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Driving in South Sudan is dangerous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles and inadequate street lighting. Using public transport should be avoided as many vehicles are badly maintained and driving standards can be poor. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Roadblocks and checkpoints (official and unofficial) are common throughout South Sudan. Some roads in Juba have been closed as a result of the ongoing security situation.

Australians travelling by road should verify local security conditions and road conditions beforehand.

Landmines: Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a danger throughout South Sudan. Australians are urged to 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 instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in South Sudan.

All airlines registered in South Sudan are banned from European airspace.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in South Sudan, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, apply to you. If you are 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 cannot 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 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.

Australians who engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Australians should be aware that the judiciary and court system in South Sudan is 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. See our LGBTI travellers page.

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.

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.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

Conservative standards of dress and behaviour are expected in South Sudan, particularly in rural areas. You should 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.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you 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.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations 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. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

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.

There have been ongoing outbreaks of polio in countries across the Horn of Africa. Travellers should ensure they 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. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to 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.

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. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to South Sudan. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

An outbreak of cholera in Juba was confirmed on 27 May 2014.

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. We advise you to 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.

The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. For more information on the outbreak and regional travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

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

You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya which is accredited to South Sudan:

Australian High Commission
Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road)
Nairobi, KENYA
Telephone: (254 20) 427 7100
Facsimile: (254 20) 427 7139
Website: www.kenya.highcommission.gov.au

See the High Commission 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, SMS +61 421 269 080 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

If you are travelling to South Sudan, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend you register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

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 Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, you should follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the media for up-to-date information.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.