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Sudan Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Feb 26, 2009

The Department of State continues to warn against all travel to Sudan due to threats from armed conflicts and terrorism.  American citizens who choose to remain in Sudan should take appropriate precautions, particularly in light of the January 2008 murder of two American Embassy employees, the possibility of protests related to the expected issuance of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court for the President of Sudan on March 4, 2009, and ongoing violence in many regions of the country.  This Travel Warning for Sudan replaces the Travel Warning issued on October 2, 2008, to note the potential for violence when the ICC announces its decision.

In July 2008, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested that a warrant of arrest be issued for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity.  The ICC said on February 23 that it will announce its decision regarding the request for a warrant on March 4, 2009.  There is a potential for violent protests and incidents targeting Europeans and Americans if the ICC issues an arrest warrant or additional indictments against President Bashir.

On January 1, 2008, two American Embassy employees were assassinated while traveling in their vehicle in Khartoum.  In May 2008, the city of Omdurman, adjacent to Khartoum, was attacked by armed militias.  The Embassy has implemented heightened security measures to protect Embassy personnel in Sudan, which include obtaining advance permission for all travel and modes of transportation to be used.  American citizens residing in Sudan are urged to maintain situational awareness at all times.

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Sudan, particularly in the Darfur area, where violence between Sudanese Government forces and various armed militias continues.  Americans and Europeans have been victims of carjackings and armed robberies while traveling in Sudan.  Land travel at night should be avoided.

Travelers are reminded that the U.S. Government has received information on terrorist threats aimed at American and European interests in Sudan.  Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings.  U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and locations where expatriates are known to congregate, and commercial operations associated with U.S. or European interests.  Anti-American/European demonstrations periodically occur, mostly in the capital city of Khartoum. 

Travel anywhere in Sudan, including Khartoum and the adjacent town of Omdurman, is potentially dangerous.  Militia forces have instigated sporadic violence and have attacked locations in Southern Sudan.  Threats have been made against foreigners working in the oil industry in Upper Nile state. 

Enforcement of aviation safety standards in Sudan is uneven; civil aviation in Sudan continues to experience air incidents and accidents, including five crashes with at least 64 fatalities between November 8, 2007, and September 21, 2008.  Incidents included engine failures, a collapsed landing gear, and planes veering off the runway.  In August 2008, a domestic flight originating in Nyala, Darfur was hijacked and forced to land in Libya.

Americans traveling to Sudan despite this Travel Warning are advised to travel, whenever possible, directly to their destinations on international carriers from countries whose civil aviation authorities meet international aviation safety standards for the oversight of their air carrier operations under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment program.

Americans traveling to Sudan must possess a valid passport with at least six months of validity and a Sudanese visa.  Travelers must apply for a visa in their own country of residence.  In August 2006, five foreigners, including two Americans, were arrested and detained in Darfur after entering Sudan via the Chadian border without the appropriate documentation.  Several of these individuals had solicited and obtained escorts in Chad who allegedly promised to facilitate entry into Sudan but were ultimately unable to follow through with their commitments.  Without appropriate travel documents and permits, travelers may face arrest and detention for crimes including illegal entry, publication of false information, and espionage.  If convicted, sentences range from deportation to life in prison or the death penalty.

Upon arrival, the traveler must register with the Ministry of Interior within 72 hours.  The Sudanese Government requires that anyone seeking to travel outside a 25-kilometer radius of Khartoum obtain a special travel permit.  The Government has established additional permit requirements for travel to Darfur that apply to humanitarian workers, journalists, photographers, and other media employees.  Separate additional permits are required to take photographs, even for private use, and to conduct journalism-related activities anywhere in Sudan. 

U.S. citizens are strongly urged to register with the Embassy in Khartoum or through the State Department’s Travel Registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. 

U.S. citizens should note that the Embassy varies its operating hours without advance notice due to the dynamic political and security situation.  Services for U.S. citizens are available by appointment only.  Requests for an appointment can be made by e-mailing KhartoumConsular@state.gov.  American citizens may request emergency services at any time, but the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency is limited.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Sharia Ali Abdul Latif, Khartoum; tel. (249-183)774-700/1/2/3 (outside Sudan); tel (0183) 774-700/1/2/3 (inside Sudan).  U.S. citizens may contact the consular section by phone or email KhartoumConsular@state.gov.  Additional information and U.S. Embassy warden messages are available on our website: http://sudan.usembassy.gov/.  For after-hours emergencies, please call (249-183) 774-7000/1/2/3 and ask to be connected to the duty officer.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Sudan and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov.  Safety and security is also available toll-free at 1-888-407-4747 from within the United States and Canada, or at regular toll rates at 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the United States and Canada, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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