The United States has warned its citizens of the risks of travel to South Sudan and strongly recommended them to defer all travel to that country.
In a Travel Warning issued on Monday replacing the existing one, the State Department reminded U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in the African country.
It strongly recommended against travel to the states in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan (Upper Nile, Unity, and Western Bar el Ghazai states in South Sudan; Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan; and the Abyei Special Administrative District). Although fighting between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has declined since spring 2012, the potential for troop build-ups along the border and renewed fighting continues to be a legitimate threat.
Americans have been advised to exercise extreme caution in all areas of South Sudan. In addition to the fighting in the border region, there are at least seven rebel militia forces that frequently engage in violent clashes with SPLA forces in various regions of South Sudan; these clashes can flare up with little warning and may exacerbate ethnic tensions throughout the country, leading to further violence.
The South Sudan government has only limited capacity to deter crime or provide security to travelers outside of the capital city of Juba.
The risk of violent crime is high in Juba. In addition to the risk of criminality, U.S. citizens have been the subject of arrest and detention without cause and physical abuse by South Sudanese security services.
The U.S. Embassy in Juba has imposed a curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. in an effort to ensure the safety of its personnel. In addition to the curfew, the Embassy has implemented other measures to protect U.S. government personnel living and working in South Sudan. They include requiring personnel to travel in armored government vehicles at all times at night, and to obtain advance permission for any travel outside of Juba. Due to security concerns, spouses and family members of U.S. government personnel are not permitted to reside in South Sudan.
U.S. citizens who are currently working with humanitarian relief or development agencies in Juba or anywhere in South Sudan have been advised to take measures to reduce their exposure to violent crime, and to closely follow the security policies and procedures of their organization.
There are likely to be disruptions or long delays in services provided by the Government of South Sudan, including health care and sanitation.
The U.S. Embassy in Juba currently provides limited emergency services to U.S. citizens living or traveling in South Sudan, including the provision of emergency passports. The Embassy expects to begin offering standard passport and notarial services in late 2012. Other routine Consular services are available through U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries, such as Sudan and Kenya.
U.S. citizens can obtain global updates from the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
"If you are going to live in or travel to South Sudan despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)," the State Department said on its website.
by RTT Staff Writer
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