Traveling Luck for Sudan

Sudan is located in Northern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Egypt and Eritrea.

Sudan has borders with Chad for 1360km, Egypt for 1273km, Central African Republic for 1165km, Kenya for 232km, Uganda for 435km, Congo (Kinshasa) for 628km, Ethiopia for 1606km, Eritrea for 605km and Libya for 383km.

Land in Sudan is generally flat, featureless plain; mountains in far south, northeast and west; desert dominates the north.

Sudanese land covers an area of 2505810 square kilometers which is slightly more than one-quarter the size of the US

As for the Sudanese climate; tropical in south; arid desert in north; rainy season varies by region (April to November).

Sudanese (singular and plural) speak Arabic (official), Nubian, Ta Bedawie, diverse dialects of Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Sudanic languages, English
note: program of "Arabization" in process.

Sudanese National Map

Sudanese Map

Regions of Sudan

Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since independence from the UK in 1956. Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars during most of the remainder of the 20th century. These conflicts were rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese. The first civil war ended in 1972, but broke out again in 1983. The second war and famine-related effects resulted in more than 4 million people displaced and, according to rebel estimates, more than 2 million deaths over a period of two decades. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04 with the signing of several accords; a final Naivasha peace treaty of January 2005 granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years, after which a referendum for independence is scheduled to be held. A separate conflict that broke out in the western region of Darfur in 2003 has resulted in at least 200,000 deaths and nearly 2 million displaced; as of late 2005, peacekeeping troops were struggling to stabilize the situation. Sudan also has faced large refugee influxes from neighboring countries, primarily Ethiopia and Chad, and armed conflict, poor transport infrastructure, and lack of government support have chronically obstructed the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected populations.


Sudan Country Profile

Sudan has turned around a struggling economy with sound economic policies and infrastructure investments, but it still faces formidable economic problems, starting from its low level of per capita output. From 1997 to date, Sudan has been implementing IMF macroeconomic reforms. In 1999, Sudan began exporting crude oil and in the last quarter of 1999 recorded its first trade surplus, which, along with monetary policy, has stabilized the exchange rate. Increased oil production, revived light industry, and expanded export processing zones helped sustain GDP growth at 8.6% in 2004. Agricultural production remains Sudan's most important sector, employing 80% of the work force, contributing 39% of GDP, and accounting for most of GDP growth, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Chronic instability - resulting from the long-standing civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian/pagan south, adverse weather, and weak world agricultural prices - ensure that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years.

Sudanese natural resources include petroleum; small reserves of iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, hydropower

largest country in Africa; dominated by the Nile and its tributaries

Sudanese religion is Sunni Muslim 70% (in north), indigenous beliefs 25%, Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum).

Natural hazards in Sudan include dust storms and periodic persistent droughts.

Travel Advice on Sudan

Sudan

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • On 26 January 2007, UN troops were ambushed near Opari, some 100km South East of Juba near Torit and Pageri.  One UN peacekeeper was shot and killed.

  • On 24 January 2007, a Sudanese Air West passenger plane was hijacked en route from Khartoum to Nyala (in Darfur).  The aircraft later landed in Chad and all passengers and crew were released.

  • We advise against all travel to the Eritrean border, and against all but essential travel to Kassala.

  • We advise against all travel near the Chadian border with Darfur and all but essential travel to Darfur where conflict continues. On 5 December, there were reports of fighting between rebel groups and militias in and around El-Fasher. The situation remains volatile. We advise all British citizens in and around El-Fasher, in North Darfur State, to limit their movements and exercise extreme caution.

  • Banditry in Darfur is widespread and great caution is needed when travelling outside the major population centres or at night.  There have been several incidents involving NGO and UN staff and some African Union peace monitoring troops have been killed.

  • We advise against all travel south of Juba in Central and East Equatoria.  We also advise against all travel in West Equatoria within 40kms of the border with DRC.   There have been a number of fatal attacks against people working for aid organisations in areas near to the Ugandan border in southern Sudan.

  • We advise against all travel to Malakal (Upper Nile State) where armed fighting broke out on 27 November 2006 between Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and armed militia groups. Some UN and NGO staff have been evacuated from the area and tensions remain high.

  • We advise against all but essential travel to all other parts of southern Sudan, including Juba.  The situation throughout southern Sudan is volatile.  There have been robberies and violence against NGO and UN staff.

  • You should be aware of a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could happen anywhere in Sudan and may be against Western targets

  • The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January 2005 has effectively brought to an end the north-south civil war.  However, some areas remain tense. Some recent demonstrations have resulted in injuries to protestors.  You should remain vigilant and avoid demonstrations or similar large gatherings in public places.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.  You should register with the British Embassy in Khartoum on arrival and keep in touch throughout your stay.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
The incidence of street crime in Khartoum and other major northern Sudanese cities, other than in Darfur, is low compared to many parts of Africa.  However, you should exercise caution, particularly after dark.
We continue to receive reports from travellers of individuals who have attempted to use personal information to extort money from their relatives.  You should be careful to keep your personal information secure. 
Political Situation

Sudan Country Profile.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January 2005 effectively brought to an end the civil war in the south.  The ruling National Congress Party and the SPLM/A formed a Government of National Unity on 20 September 2005, and the devolved Government of Southern Sudan was formed on 22 October 2005.  You should remain vigilant, and avoid demonstrations or similar large gatherings in public places (see South Sudan paragraph of Local Travel section below).
The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed on 5 May 2006, by the Government of Sudan and the largest faction of the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) rebel group (MinniMinnawi).
The humanitarian situation remains dire (nearly two million people have been displaced by the fighting).  The African Union has deployed a peace support operation, and where it is present, they have a positive impact.  International pressure on the Government of Sudan to address the situation is resented in some parts of Sudan, and there have been demonstrations against international actions, most recently on 30 August 2006.  There have also been recent opposition-led demonstrations against the Government of Sudan, which have been dispersed with tear gas and live firing, and which have resulted in injuries to protestors.  You should remain vigilant and avoid demonstrations or similar large gatherings in public places.
Elsewhere, the United Nations is deploying a peace support mission throughout Sudan, with particular focus on the south.
A rebel group known as the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), which has been responsible for a large number of murders and abductions in northern Uganda, also has a presence inside southern Sudan.  Since 2002, the Government of Sudan has been co-operating with the Government of Uganda by allowing the Ugandan People’s Defence Force into Sudanese territory in pursuit of LRA fighters.  On 13 October 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first arrest warrants for LRA members.  Tensions subsequently increased, and the LRA was blamed for a number of fatal attacks and robberies, including on humanitarian agencies.  However since August 2006 the LRA and Government of Uganda have been engaged in negotiations, brokered by the Government of Southern Sudan, which have resulted in the signing of a ceasefire agreement. It is too early to tell whether this agreement will hold.  If you intend to visit southern Sudan you should remain wary of the threat from the LRA and other militia groups (see section on Southern Sudan below).
Local Travel
The Wadi Halfa border crossing between Egypt and Sudan is open.  There is a weekly steamer between Aswan High Dam and Wadi Halfa with a connecting train to/from Khartoum.  You should not attempt to cross any other land borders, whether or not at official crossing points.  Landmines pose a threat in rural areas in many parts of the country.
The Central African Republic closed its border with Sudan on 14 April 2006.
Desert travel within Sudan should be attempted only if you are fully equipped and experienced.
Permits, obtained locally, are required for all travel to many destinations outside Khartoum.
Please note the following specific localised warnings, and consult the British Embassy in Khartoum if you intend to travel to the following areas:
Darfur
We advise against all but essential travel to Darfur.  The security situation in Darfur remains unstable.  Fighting continues and lawlessness and banditry is widespread.  Since March 2006, there has been particularly heavy fighting in West Darfur, exacerbated by the presence of rebel groups from Chad.
On 5 December, there were reports of fighting between rebel groups and militias in and around El-Fasher. The situation remains volatile. We advise all British citizens in and around El-Fasher, in North Darfur State, to limit their movements and exercise extreme caution. 
The UN strengthened their security advice and have evacuated non-essential staff from West Darfur.  Overnight curfews are routinely imposed throughout Darfur.  On 6 January one African Union monitor was killed and a further 10 injured in an attack on their convoy in West Darfur.  This followed an attack on 8 October 2005, in which four African Union personnel and two PAE national staff were killed in an attack on their convoy.  A further two African Union troops were killed on 19 August 2006.  In North Darfur, there has been a recent upsurge in fighting and increasing insecurity between signatories and non-signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement.  This includes attacks on humanitarian aid workers.
There have been a number of instances of attacks on and detention of humanitarian workers and clearly identified humanitarian vehicles throughout Darfur.  There are regular reports of attacks, looting and detention of humanitarian convoys and premises, and a number of aid workers have been attacked killed.  On 25 October 2006 suspected rebels hijacked two vehicles belonging to a British NGO in Saiafandu, 50 miles south east of Nyala, prompting the NGO to suspend operations in the area.
NGO workers should ensure that they have co-ordinated their movements with UN Security and ensure that all necessary parties have been notified.  Great caution is needed if you intend to travel at night or away from significant population centres.
In August, five foreigners were arrested and detained in Darfur after entering Sudan via the Chadian border town of Bahai without the appropriate documentation.  Some of these individuals had solicited, and obtained, escorts in Chad who promised to facilitate their entry into Sudan but who ultimately did not.  The Sudanese Government requires that anyone seeking entry to the Darfur area, for whatever purpose, must first obtain a special permit.
Eastern Sudan
In June 2005, there were significant outbreaks of violence by rebel militia against the Government in eastern Sudan just north of the Eritrean border.  Militias and troops remain in Eastern Sudan and the area is still tense with a risk of further violence.  In late January 2005, Port Sudan witnessed violent clashes between police and supporters of the Beja Congress in which 19 people were killed.
Eritrean and Sudanese military forces face each other on the eastern border.  The situation is very tense and could deteriorate extremely rapidly.  We advise against all travel to the Eritrean border.
Southern Sudan
We advise against all travel south of Juba in Central and Eastern Equatoria, and against all travel in West Equatoria within 40kms of the DRC border.  Since October 2005 there have been a number of attacks against international interests in this area.  On 16 March 2006 gunmen attacked a UNHCR office in Yei, killing one person and injuring a further two and on 18 March 2006 a group attacked UN offices in Yambio.  The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are thought to be responsible for separate attacks since October 2005 against vehicles containing aid workers in Equatoria in southern Sudan and northern Uganda, and sporadic attacks against civilians continue.  These attacks resulted in the deaths of at least five people, including one British national and a number of other serious injuries.  In November 2005 diplomatic missions in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, saw an extract from a letter, purporting to be from the LRA, which threatens to kill any ‘white person’ moving in the region.  Though the LRA are currently in negotiations with the Ugandan Government and have signed a ceasefire deal, involving the possible relocation of LRA forces to certain assembly areas, it is too early to judge whether the LRA threat has been reduced.  If you are currently in the region you should exercise extreme caution, think carefully about your security and whether you need to remain.  Some of the recent attacks have taken place in daylight hours and close to population centres.
We advise against all but essential travel to other parts of southern Sudan, including Juba.  There have been a recent series of violent incidents east and south of the town resulting in around 50 deaths.  On 27 October 2006, elements of an unidentified militia attacked the area around Gumbo town on the eastern bank of the Nile, adjacent to Juba.  A UN convoy was attacked the following day on the Juba-Torit road.  There has also been some increase in lawless incidents within Juba itself and we would advise you to remain vigilant at all times.  Generally, the situation on the ground in southern Sudan is volatile.  Lawlessness remains a problem and there have been several recent reports of attacks on NGO and UN staff in Rumbek.  Curfews are occasionally imposed in towns in southern Sudan and must be observed. 
You should be aware that a few foreign personnel in the oil fields of south Sudan have occasionally been subject to brief "abductions" without ransom, usually linked to labour disputes involving oil companies.  Such incidents, including one involving a UK citizen who was taken hostage on 9 November 2006, have been quickly resolved and the victim released unharmed within a few hours.
Travel in the south is not straightforward, particularly during the rainy season (from July to October).  If you do need to travel in Southern Sudan, we strongly advise against travel at night and outside major population centres.
Upper Nile State
In the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal, heavy fighting erupted on 27 November between the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and an armed militia group. Casualties have been reported and the situation remains tense. UN and NGOs have evacuated staff, including reportedly some UK citizens. We advise against all travel to Malakal for the time being. Elsewhere in Upper Nile the situation remains tense  due to the presence of armed militias.  You should avoid all but essential travel to the area for the time being.
Unity State
Small-scale military clashes between rival militias have been reported from Bentiu and Ribkona.  We advise against all but essential travel to this area for the time being.
Nuba Mountains
The Nuba Mountains have been subject to a cease-fire since 2002, and this has been incorporated into the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  International personnel have participated in a peace-monitoring mission since 2002 (which has now been taken over by the UN), and the cease-fire has largely been upheld.   On occasions, unofficial visitors to the Nuba Mountains area have been arrested and held in detention.
Road Travel
You are at risk of involvement in traffic accidents when using public transport, as many vehicles are unsafe.
The driving conditions and standards in Sudan are below those in the UK and other European countries.  Only major roads are metalled.  Residential areas usually have unsurfaced roads.  At night, there is generally no street lighting and many vehicles have no lights.  Roads are used by pedestrians, donkey-carts and rickshaws, as well as motor vehicles.
Outside Khartoum, some major routes between towns have good roads.  Off the beaten track, roads may consist of a rough track and in many areas, not even that.  Any journeys not following a major route or road should include a local guide with experience of the area.  Many areas south of Khartoum become inaccessible by road during the rainy season from July to October.  The wadis (dry riverbeds) are subject to dangerous flash floods and many are not passable during the rains unless travelling on a major road.
Although drivers need a licence and insurance, many do not have these.  You should ensure that you obtain adequate insurance, preferably including a premium for "blood money" in case of involvement in an accident involving a third party.  You can drive in Sudan using a full UK driving licence for a maximum period of three months.  You can obtain local driving licences from the police.
There are no restrictions on women driving in Sudan and both men and women can obtain local driving licences, upon production of a full UK driving licence, from the local authorities.
Sudanese law prohibits the use of mobile phones whilst driving.
Air Safety
On 24 January 2007, a Sudanese Air West passenger plane was hijacked en route from Khartoum to Nyala (in Darfur).  The aircraft later landed in Chad and all passengers and crew were released.

Although international flights conform to international safety standards, you should be aware that the same assurances cannot be made for internal flights operated by national airlines.
Sea Safety
Mariners should be aware that incidents of piracy have been reported in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and are advised to exercise vigilance and seek local advice.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Local laws reflect the fact that Northern Sudan and the capital Khartoum are predominantly Muslim.   You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
Northern Sudan operates Islamic Sharia Law.  Alcohol is not permitted.  Under the terms of the Sudanese constitution, until the referendum on secession of Southern Sudan takes place, Sharia law will apply in the states of Northern Sudan, but not Southern Sudan.  Although the constitution specifies that in the national capital, Khartoum, non-Muslims shall not be subject to Sharia law, at present this has not resulted in any practical changes and you should expect Sharia law to apply.
Non-Muslim women are not expected to wear a veil or cover their heads, but you should dress modestly and respect local customs and sensitivities.
Homosexual practices and extra marital relations are illegal and subject to severe penalties under Islamic Sharia law.  Sudanese society is not, therefore, tolerant of homosexual relationships.
There are severe penalties for drug trafficking in Sudan.
In theory, all photography requires a formal photographic permit.  We are aware of several cases where individuals have been arrested.  A permit can be obtained following an application to the External Information Centre (part of the Ministry of Information).  We strongly advise against taking photographs close to Government Buildings, military installations and other sensitive areas (bridges, airports etc).


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

You should obtain a visa before travelling.  Please contact the Sudanese Embassy in London. Website: The Sudanese Embassy in London.

Your Passport must have a minimum of six months validity from the date of arrival in Sudan.

If you have a flight out of Sudan, you should note exit visa requirements.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Sudanese Embassy in London.

If you do not hold a diplomatic passport you are required to register with the Aliens Department within three days of your arrival in the country (2 passport size photos are needed and the fee is the Dinar equivalent of around £15).  Once registered, you are not required to obtain an exit visa to leave the country.  You are required to pay US$20 per person airport tax.
If your passport has an Israeli visa or Israel entry/exit stamps you will not be allowed to enter Sudan.
You must obtain a permit before travelling outside of Khartoum and you must also register with the police at your new destination within 24 hours of arrival.  For travel to destinations within South Sudan, a travel permit is also required from the Government of South Sudan.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  This should include cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.
As a general rule, GP facilities in Khartoum are adequate but the hospitals are not suitable for elective problems and only suitable for stabilisation of serious medical problems prior to evacuation.
Water and food-borne diseases can be prevalent and include Salmonella, Typhoid, Shigella, Giardia, Hepatitis A and Amoebiasis.  AIDS is believed to be a growing problem.
As of March 2006, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported an outbreak of cholera in Sudan, affecting the capital Khartoum and the majority of states in the North and South including the states of Central, East and West Equatoria, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Lakes.  On 1 June 2006, the WHO reported 14,196 cases and 424 deaths.  The current focus of the outbreak is East Equatoria State.
The WHO has also reported a new outbreak of acute diarrhoeal syndrome in Khartoum, North Kordofan, White Nile and Nile River states.  On 1 June 2006, the WHO reported 837 cases including 29 deaths.
Since mid-2005 the WHO has reported cases of meningitis in West Darfur, Gedaref State, Bahr el Ghazal State, Unity State, Blue Nile State and Khartoum State.  You should be immunised against meningitis if you plan to visit the area, taking into account that outbreaks of meningitis are also recurrent elsewhere in Sudan.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

In September 2006, local health authorities confirmed the deaths of poultry from Avian Influenza (also known as Bird Flu) in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.  This follows a series of separate outbreaks near Khartoum, in central Sudan, in April 2006.  No confirmed human infections or deaths have been reported.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet
NATURAL DISASTERS
Sudan suffers from both drought and flash flooding.  If you are planning to travel overland to remote areas, flooding can make areas inaccessible by road.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.

You should register with the British Embassy in Khartoum on arrival and keep in touch throughout your stay.

Money: Credit cards and travellers' cheques are not usually acceptable in Sudan.  It is not possible to obtain cash against credit cards at banks and credit cards are not acceptable at hotels to settle bills.  Neither is it possible to cash travellers' cheques through the local banking system in Sudan.  You should ensure that you have sufficient hard currency, preferably US Dollars, to cover expenses during your stay.

There is no legal requirement to carry identification documents but we strongly recommend that you carry a form of photo identification with you at all times.

You should ensure that onward or return flights are reconfirmed with the airline at least 72 hours before departure.