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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Sudan

Sudan - Consular Information Sheet
January 3, 2001

WARNING (Issued December 12, 2000): The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Sudan because of the unstable security situation throughout the country. In addition to the ongoing civil war that affects both southern and eastern Sudan, the government of Sudan's control over its police and soldiers may be limited.

The government of Sudan continues to conduct a bombing campaign against rebel forces in southern Sudan. In addition, there has been rebel activity in and around Kassala, in eastern Sudan. Following a rebel incursion in Kassala in early November 2000, the government of Sudan authorities arrested an American relief worker in that area on suspicion of espionage and severely beat him. As a result of the rebel activity, the United Nations ordered all its personnel operating in Kassala to evacuate the area in and around the city. Other non-governmental organizations operating in Kassala evacuated their personnel as well.

The United States has no permanent diplomatic presence in Sudan because of concerns regarding the government of Sudan's ability to ensure adequately the safety of U.S. officials. While U.S. officials elsewhere in the region make periodic visits to Sudan, their ability to provide consular services, including emergency assistance, is severely limited.

U.S. citizens in Sudan are urged to consider their personal security situations in determining whether to remain in the country. Those who remain in Sudan should keep a low profile and stay alert to changing developments. Avoid large crowds and other situations in which anti-American sentiments may be expressed.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Sudan is a large, developing country in northeastern Africa. Tourism facilities are minimal. The capital is Khartoum.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS/REGISTRATION WITH LOCAL POLICE: A passport and visa are required. Americans citizens should apply for a Sudanese visa in a third country. Visas cannot be obtained in the United States, or at the Sudanese airport, or at the Sudanese border. Travelers must pay an airport departure tax in U.S. dollars or Saudi riyals or, if they have residence permits in Sudan, in Sudanese pounds. The Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association requires travelers to opposition-held areas of southern Sudan to obtain a travel permit at its office in Nairobi.

Travelers to Sudan are required to register with police headquarters within three days of arrival. Travelers must obtain police permission before moving to another location in Sudan and must register with police within 24 hours of arrival at the new location. These regulations are strictly enforced. Even with proper documentation, travelers in Sudan have been subjected to delays and detention by Sudan's security forces, especially when traveling outside Khartoum. Authorities expect roadblocks to be respected.

For further information on entry requirements and registration with local police, please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Sudan, 2210 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 338-8565 to 8570. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Sudanese embassy or consulate.

TRADE RESTRICTIONS: On November 4, 1997, President Clinton signed an Executive Order imposing comprehensive financial and commercial sanctions against Sudan, prohibiting U.S. transactions with Sudan. Travelers intending to visit Sudan, despite the Travel Warning, should contact the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Office of Compliance, regarding the effect of these sanctions; telephone 1-800-540-6322 or 202-622-2490; web site http://www.treas.gov/ofac/.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Travel in all parts of Sudan, particularly outside Khartoum, is potentially hazardous. Civil war persists in the southern Sudan provinces of Upper Nile, Bahr El Ghazal, and Equatoria, and has spread to the eastern Sudan provinces of Blue Nile, Red Sea, and Kassala, along the Ethiopian and Eritrean borders. Banditry and incursions by southern Sudanese rebels are common in western Sudan, particularly in Darfur Province along the Chadian and Libyan borders, where a state of emergency exists. The land border with Egypt (ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa) has been reopened. Transportation between Eritrea and Sudan is currently halted. The Sudan People's Liberation Army controls all border crossings from Kenya and Uganda.

CURFEW: The curfew in Khartoum has been lifted. However, persons who are outside between midnight and 5:00 a.m. are subject to document searches at police checkpoints. Hotel officials and local police can inform visitors whether a curfew is in effect in other localities.

CRIME: Petty crime and thievery occur. Travelers should exercise caution at the airport, in markets and at public gatherings.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips forTravelers to Sub-Saharan Africa, provide useful information on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Sudan are extremely limited.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Sudan is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Road conditions are hazardous due to unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and animals in the roadway, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles. Roads are narrow and poorly maintained. Only some major highways are paved. Roads in southern Sudan may be impassable during the rainy season, while roads in the north can be quickly covered with shifting sand at anytime during the year. Nighttime driving throughout the country is dangerous and should be avoided if possible because vehicles often operate without lights or park in the road without warning. Ambulance and road emergency services are available in major urban areas, but the are extremely limited or unavailable elsewhere in the country.

Public transit is limited except in and between major urban areas. Passenger facilities are basic and crowded, especially during rush hours or seasonal travel. Schedules are unpublished and subject to change without notice. Vehicle maintenance does not meet the same standards as those in the United States or other Western countries. There is regular passenger train service from Khartoum to Wadi Halfa and Port Sudan. Inter-city bus service between major cities is regular and inexpensive. Intra-city bus service in the major urban areas is generally regular, but most buses and bus stops are unmarked. Taxis are available in the major cities at hotels, tourist sites and government offices. Public transit service to medium-size communities in the interior usually is limited to irregularly scheduled mini-buses. Most rural communities in the interior have no public transit.

U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Traffic laws and custom in Sudan are substantially different from those in the United States. In Sudan, one drives on the right side of the road. There is no government agency specifically responsible for road safety, nor is there any regime to regularly inspect vehicle maintenance or safety. Seat belts and/or infant seats are not required. Many vehicles do not have seat belts or other safety equipment that is standard in the United States or other Western countries. Traffic on the right has the right of way. Right turns on a red light are prohibited. Speed limits are not posted. The legal speed limit for passenger cars on inter-city highways is 120 KPH (70 MPH), while in most urban areas it is 60 KPH (35 MPH). The speed limit in congested areas and school zones is 40 KPH (24 MPH).

All motor vehicle operators are required to purchase third-party liability insurance from the government. Nonetheless, many local drivers carry no insurance. Persons involved in an accident resulting in death or injury are required to report the incident to the nearest police station or official as soon as possible. Persons found at fault can expect fines, revocation of license, and jail sentences depending on the nature and extent of the accident. Penalties for persons convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol are strict, and convicted offenders may expect fines, jail sentences, and corporal punishment.

U.S. citizens may use their U.S. issued driver's licenses up to ninety days after arrival. After that, they must present either an "International Driving Permit" (IDP) or obtain a Sudanese driver's license. There are no restrictions on vehicle types, including motorcycles and motorized tricycles. Motorcycles, however, are relatively rare because of public perceptions that the highways are too dangerous for them.

The government of Sudan does not publish traffic statistics. The last reported instance of an American citizen injured in a traffic accident in Sudan was in 1996.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Sudanese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

AIR TRAVEL: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Sudan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Sudan's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

Unforeseen circumstances such as sandstorms and electrical outages may cause flight delays. The Khartoum International Airport arrival and departure procedures are lengthy. Passengers on international flights should allow three hours for pre-departure security and other processing at the airport. Passengers for domestic flights should be at the airport at least two hours before flights. Domestic flights, including those to and from Port Sudan, Dongola and Juba, are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: A currency declaration statement is required upon arrival and departure from Sudan. Visitors who attempt to exchange money at unauthorized banking institutions or on the black market risk arrest and/or loss of funds. Please note restrictions on transactions with Sudan contained in the section on Trade Restrictions. Some visitors to Sudan have experienced difficulty exchanging U.S. dollar denomination instruments -- such as travelers' checks or credit cards -- due to U.S. economic sanctions.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: A permit is required before taking photographs anywhere in Khartoum, as well as in the interior of the country. Photographing military areas, bridges, drainage stations, broadcast stations, public utilities and slum areas or beggars is prohibited.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Disruptions of water and electricity are frequent. A new telecommunications system is in the process of being installed.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available under U.S law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Sudanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sudan are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens traveling to Sudan, despite the Travel Warning, are encouraged to register with local employees at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum located at Sharia Ali Abdul Latif, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Sudan. The mailing address is P.O. Box 699, Khartoum; telephone (249)(11) 774-700 and 774-611; fax 774-137. The U.S. consular officer can be contacted via the Consular Section in Khartoum or directly at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo; telephone (20)(2) 795-7371; e-mail: consularcairo@state.gov. The workweek in Cairo and Khartoum is Sunday through Thursday. Information on services available for residents of Sudan may be found on the U.S. Embassy Cairo's web site: http://usembassy.egnet.net/sudan.htm.

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