Sudan Travel Warning
October 11, 2013
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Sudan, urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, and advises you to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan.
On September 14, 2012, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum was attacked during a protest demonstration, resulting in a six-month ordered departure of all non-essential staff and accompanying family members.
On March 13, 2013, after six months without security incidents or demonstrations targeted at U.S. citizens or the United States government in Sudan, the State Department lifted its ordered departure status. All U.S. government personnel and all adult family members employed by the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum have returned to Khartoum. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on April 16, 2013, and includes updated information about the risk of terrorist activity and travel restrictions for U.S. government personnel.
While the Government of Sudan has taken some steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, elements of these groups remain in Sudan and have threatened to attack Western interests. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings. You should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and locations where westerners are known to congregate, as well as commercial operations associated with U.S. or Western interests. The terrorist threat level throughout Sudan, and particularly in the Darfur region, remains critical, and the U.S. Embassy has implemented enhanced security measures to protect U.S. government personnel assigned to Sudan. These measures include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles at all times, and to obtain advance permission for travel outside of Khartoum. In addition, family members of U.S. personnel under age 21 are not allowed to reside in Sudan.
If you are traveling or residing anywhere in Sudan, you should exercise caution at all times and closely monitor local and international news from reliable sources. Violent flare-ups break out between various armed militia groups and Sudanese military forces with little notice, particularly in the Darfur region, along the border between Chad and Sudan, and in areas on the border with South Sudan. Near the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea, landmines and unmarked minefields are a critical threat. There are occasional clashes with local tribes, particularly those known for weapons and human trafficking, along with the threats of Ethiopian gangs crossing the border to rob people along the highway. Hostilities between Sudanese forces and armed opposition groups in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, including the disputed area of Abyei, present real and immediate dangers to travelers. In addition, U.S. citizens found in these areas without permission from the Government of Sudan face the possibility of detention by government security forces. You should avoid all public demonstrations and political rallies, as even demonstrations that seem peaceful can turn confrontational and become violent with little or no notice. Demonstrations occur periodically, mostly in Khartoum. In September 2013, Khartoum and other urban areas witnessed violent confrontations between authorities and demonstrators protesting economic austerity measures. You should keep a low profile, vary your times and routes of travel, exercise care while driving, and ensure that your passport and Sudanese visa are always valid and up to date.
The threat of violent crime, including kidnappings, armed robberies, home invasions, and carjackings, is particularly high in the Darfur region of Sudan, as the Government of Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime in that region. In addition, Janjaweed militia and heavily armed Darfuri rebel groups are known to have carried out criminal attacks against foreigners. In May 2010, a U.S. citizen working for a humanitarian relief organization was kidnapped in Darfur and held for more than three months before being released. More recently, a number of other foreign nationals have been abducted and held for ransom by criminal groups in Darfur. Due to the fluid security situation, U.S. government personnel are not authorized to travel to Darfur except to certain areas deemed acceptable at the time of travel and with appropriate security precautions.
The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by extremists to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.
MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant, and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battlewatch captain at phone number 973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events are also to be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.
We recommend that all U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Sudan maintain safehaven plans, as well as plans to evacuate the country on short notice should the situation warrant. If the security situation worsens or if specific threats affecting the safety of U.S. citizens are discovered, we will make this information available through the U.S. Embassy website and by messages communicated through our warden system.Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens in Sudan can be found online at: http://sudan.usembassy.gov/warden_messages.html.
The ability of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum to provide services to U.S. citizens in emergency situations outside of the Khartoum area is limited, and dependent on security conditions. The ability to provide assistance is particularly limited in southern Sudan and in Darfur.
You can stay in touch and get updates by checking the U.S. Embassy website. U.S. citizens can also obtain global updates from the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, or for callers from other countries, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and Google play,to have travel information at your fingertips.
If you are going to live in or travel to Sudan despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling in STEP will also make it easier for us to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address. U.S. citizens in Sudan without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum by completing and submitting a registration form.
The U.S. Embassy is located at U.S. Embassy Road, Kilo 10, Soba, Khartoum. U.S. citizens may obtain the latest security information by contacting the Embassy consular section at ACSKhartoum@state.gov, or by visiting the U.S. Embassy website. In the event of an emergency involving a U.S. citizen, contact the Embassy by calling 0187-022-000 (from inside Sudan) or 249 187-022-000 (from outside Sudan) and ask to be connected to the Embassy duty officer.