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South Sudan

If you’re travelling to South Sudan, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Latest Travel Alert

The security situation in South Sudan is volatile and unpredictable, due to armed conflict, inter-ethnic violence and high levels of violent crime. The security situation in Juba has the potential to deteriorate with little warning. There are daily reports of fighting throughout the rest of the country. The Equatoria region and the border areas with Sudan and Ethiopia are extremely unstable. Our latest updates are available on @DFATravelwise and this website. If you have any concerns you should contact the Embassy of Ireland in Addis Ababa, or our Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.

We advise against all travel to South Sudan, including the capital Juba. If you have no pressing need to remain, we recommend that you leave if it is safe to do so. Irish nationals choosing to stay in South Sudan should remain alert to the local security situation, monitor the media and stay in a safe location. If you are outside Juba, you should exercise your own judgement, based on your knowledge of the local situation, on whether it is safer to try to reach Juba or remain where you are.

Security status

In July 2016, heavy fighting broke out between government and opposition forces in Juba. Since then, armed conflict has spread throughout the country, including attacks on civilian populations. Foreigners have been the target of violent crime and kidnapping.

Terrorist attacks in South Sudan cannot be ruled out. Landmines pose a threat in parts of the country, particularly outside of Juba.

In the event of a serious deterioration of the security situation, invasive security measures such as curfews may be imposed. Road blocks are frequent and increasing fuel shortages may impede your ability to move freely at short notice. Telecommunications are unreliable.

If you're living in or travelling to South Sudan, keep abreast of the latest security situation and be ready to leave at short notice. Take all necessary precautions, and make sure that your visa and travel documents are up to date at all times.

Emergency assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in South Sudan, we're limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Embassy of Ireland in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia or our Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.

You can contact the emergency services in South Sudan by dialling:

  • Ambulance: 15
  • Fire: 17
  • Police: 18

Other EU Embassies

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries in South Sudan for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical 'Know Before You Go' guide

 

Safety and security

The peace agreement signed in August 2015 has led to a reduction in large scale fighting. However, there are continued reports of sporadic and sometimes heavy fighting in parts of South Sudan, particularly in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States.

Juba

Juba is a rapidly growing city with a huge disparity in wealth between foreigners and most of the local population.  Avoid going out at night unless for essential travel and don’t walk after dark. Guns are common and you should be aware that criminals may be armed.

There is a high security presence in Juba, especially at night, and particularly around road junctions and government buildings. You will come across security checkpoints and you should be prepared to respond to these in a calm, patient and respectful manner.

Border regions

We advise against all travel to the regions bordering Sudan (Upper Nile, Unity, Northern and Western Bar el Ghazal States). Parts of the border between Sudan and South Sudan have yet to be delineated, and the status of some armed groups along the border remains unresolved. This has led to intense fighting in recent months in disputed regions, as well as to aerial bombings.

We also advise against all travel to areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). The presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) within DRC and CAR has been a source of cross-border attacks into South Sudan. In 2012, the African Union launched a joint military offensive against the LRA. A previous joint offensive led to violent LRA retaliations against the civilian population in villages located in western border areas. There is a heightened risk of attacks and kidnappings in the region.

Jonglei State/Unity /Upper Nile

We advise against all travel to Jonglei ,Unity and Upper Nile states. Frequent inter-communal violence over land ownership and cattle rustling have led to abductions and reprisal attacks. Hundreds of deaths have been reported and tens of thousands of people have been displaced due to clashes.

Terrorism

There is a risk of terrorism in all parts of South Sudan.

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.

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
  • Take a number of photocopies of your passport with you in case your passport is lost or stolen.  Leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting any business
  • If you’re visiting a bank, be aware of your surroundings and of any people that may be watching you. If you’re withdrawing or changing money, you may be targeted by armed robbers upon leaving
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations
  • Be alert to the possibility of your vehicle being followed and be careful when you leave the vehicle
  • If you’re confronted by armed attackers, leave the area immediately, if it’s safe to do so. If not, then you should do what your attackers demand without resistance

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in South Sudan, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Embassy of Ireland in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in South Sudan, you should be very careful. Driving conditions and standards in South Sudan are well below those of Ireland. Very few roads are surfaced and maintained. At night, there is street lighting only on a few main roads and many motorbikes, cars and trucks have no lights. Roads may consist of a rough track and in many areas, not even that in rainy season. Any journeys not following a major route or road should include a local guide with experience of the area.

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

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Fuel shortages

Expect serious shortages of fuel whenever tensions between Sudan and South Sudan are high.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Public transport

You are at high risk of involvement in traffic accidents when using public transport, as many vehicles are unsafe.

Air safety

We can’t be sure that maintenance procedures on aircraft used for internal flights are properly observed so if possible, don’t fly on airlines listed under the EU operating ban.

Landmines

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

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Local customs

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

Homosexuality

Homosexual activity is illegal and the subject is taboo for the majority of South Sudanese.

Illegal drugs

There are severe penalties for drug trafficking in South Sudan. 

Sexual behaviour

Extramarital relations are not culturally accepted.

Personal identification

Take several photocopies of your passport with you and carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay.

Photography

All photography in South Sudan requires a formal photographic permit from the government. You can get a permit by applying to the GoSS Ministry of Information. We advise against all photography close to government buildings, military installations, public utilities (including petrol stations), and other sensitive areas (eg bridges, airports, etc).

Bars and nightclubs

The Ministry of the Interior has stipulated a closing time of 11pm for bars and midnight for nightclubs within Juba city. Be aware of these closing times because being in a bar or nightclub after these times may result in a police encounter and possible arrest or detention.

 

Health

In South Sudan, including in Juba, medical facilities are well below Western standards. Specialised doctors, surgeons and operating facilities are inadequate in Juba and do not exist elsewhere. Most serious medical problems would need medical evacuation to Nairobi (Kenya) or Kampala (Uganda).

Be aware that during the rainy season flights are often forced to remain on the ground for hours. Therefore if you have medical problems you should carefully consider these limitations before travelling.

Insect-borne diseases

Insect-borne diseases are common is South Sudan and may include chloroquine resistant forms of plasmodium falciparum malaria, leishmaniasis and dracunculiasis. Nairobi flies are common during certain periods of the year, following heavy rains.

Water- and food-borne diseases

Water and food-borne diseases are common to South Sudan. These include salmonella, cholera, typhoid, shigella, giardia, hepatitis A and amoebiasis.

Travel insurance

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Vaccinations

Before travelling to South Sudan, you should consult a doctor regarding necessary vaccinations.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens need a visa to visit South Sudan. You will not be permitted to fly from Nairobi to Juba without a valid visa.

If you’re unsure about the entry requirements for South Sudan, ask your travel agent or contact the Embassy of South Sudan in London.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to South Sudan and you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay.

Water

You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Money

South Sudan is a cash-based society. Credit and debit cards, travellers' cheques, and cash cards are not accepted in South Sudan. You can’t get cash against credit cards at banks, and credit cards are not acceptable at hotels to settle bills. Nor is it possible to cash travellers’ cheques through the local banking system 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.

Make sure you have enough hard currency, preferably US dollars, to cover expenses during your stay. Businesses in South Sudan will generally not accept US dollars printed before 2006, or notes that have tears or are otherwise damaged. Check that the notes you bring with you are relatively new and in good condition.

There are no international ATMs currently available in Juba.

Climate

South Sudan suffers from both drought and flash flooding.

Flooding

If you are planning to travel overland to remote areas in South Sudan during the rainy season, you should note that flooding can make areas inaccessible by road.