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Is South Sudan Safe?

South Sudan remains an extremely high-risk destination for travelers due to widespread violent crime, civil unrest, and terrorism threats. The country has been plagued by years of ethnic conflict, with armed clashes and kidnappings posing grave dangers, even in major cities. Basic medical facilities are severely lacking, and disease outbreaks are common. Travelers should reconsider all non-essential travel and closely monitor advisories from their governments.

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Safety & Security

South Sudan faces significant safety risks for travelers due to ongoing civil conflict, high levels of crime, and the potential for terrorist attacks.

  • Civil Unrest: The country has experienced years of civil war and ethnic violence, with clashes between government and rebel forces still occurring in some areas. Travelers should avoid regions with active fighting and follow all travel advisories.

  • Crime: Violent crime, such as armed robbery, carjackings, and kidnappings, is common, especially in major cities and rural areas. Petty crime like pickpocketing and bag snatching also pose risks.

  • Terrorism: While infrequent, terrorist attacks by groups like Al-Shabaab cannot be ruled out, particularly in border regions. Westerners may be targeted.

  • Disputes: Ethnic and inter-communal tensions can escalate into violence with little warning. Travelers should avoid demonstrations and crowds.

  • Scams: Criminals may attempt to lure foreigners into fake business deals or real estate scams. Exercise extreme caution when approached with unsolicited offers.

Travelers should maintain a high level of vigilance, avoid traveling alone or at night, and follow the advice of local authorities and tour guides regarding areas to avoid. Comprehensive travel insurance is also highly recommended.

Health & Medical

Travelers to South Sudan should be aware of several health risks and take necessary precautions. The country has a high burden of infectious diseases, and medical facilities are limited, especially outside major cities.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider additional vaccines like yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, cholera, and meningitis, depending on your travel plans.

  • Malaria: South Sudan has a high risk of malaria transmission. Antimalarial medication is strongly recommended, along with insect repellent and mosquito nets.

  • Water and Food-borne Illnesses: Avoid consuming tap water, ice cubes, and raw or undercooked food. Stick to bottled or purified water and thoroughly cooked meals.

  • HIV/AIDS: South Sudan has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Take precautions to avoid exposure through unprotected sex or contaminated needles.

  • Medical Facilities: Healthcare facilities, especially outside major cities, are severely limited and may lack basic supplies and equipment. Travelers should have comprehensive travel health insurance and consider medical evacuation coverage.

  • Air Pollution: Air quality in urban areas can be poor, posing risks for those with respiratory conditions.

Natural Disasters

South Sudan is prone to several natural disasters that travelers should be aware of. The country experiences frequent flooding, particularly during the rainy season from April to November. Flash floods can occur with little warning, causing damage to infrastructure and disrupting transportation.

  • Droughts are also common, leading to food insecurity and water scarcity in some regions.
  • Dust storms and sandstorms can reduce visibility and pose health risks, especially for those with respiratory conditions.
  • While earthquakes are relatively infrequent, South Sudan lies in a seismically active region, and tremors can occur.

Travelers should monitor weather conditions, follow local advisories, and be prepared to adjust their plans accordingly. Ensuring adequate supplies of food, water, and essential items is recommended, especially during the rainy season or periods of drought.


Transportation in South Sudan can be challenging and unsafe for travelers. The road infrastructure is generally poor, with many roads being unpaved and in disrepair, especially during the rainy season. Banditry and armed conflicts pose significant risks on major roads, making travel by road hazardous.

  • Public Transportation is limited and unreliable, with few options available for long-distance travel. Buses and shared taxis are the primary modes of public transportation, but they are often overcrowded and poorly maintained.

  • Road Safety is a major concern due to poor road conditions, lack of traffic enforcement, and reckless driving practices. Traffic accidents are common, and emergency services are limited, especially outside major cities.

  • Air Travel is the safest and most reliable mode of transportation for long distances, but it can be expensive and subject to frequent delays or cancellations due to security concerns or weather conditions.

  • Self-Driving is generally not recommended for travelers due to the risks associated with poor road conditions, lack of signage, and potential security threats. Hiring a local driver with knowledge of the area and security protocols is advisable if traveling by road is necessary.

Cultural Norms

South Sudan is a culturally diverse nation with a rich heritage. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and traditions to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Greetings: Greetings are an integral part of South Sudanese culture. It's customary to greet elders and those in authority with respect, often by shaking hands or bowing slightly.

  • Dress Code: Modest dress is generally expected, especially in rural areas and places of worship. Women should consider covering their shoulders and knees, while men should avoid wearing shorts in certain settings.

  • Hospitality: South Sudanese people are known for their warm hospitality. Accepting offers of food or drinks is considered polite, even if you cannot finish them.

  • Photography: Be mindful when taking photographs, especially of individuals. It's advisable to seek permission before capturing someone's image.

  • Religious Observances: South Sudan has a predominantly Christian population, with a significant Muslim minority. Respect religious practices and avoid disruptive behavior during worship times or in sacred places.

  • Local Customs: Familiarize yourself with local customs, such as avoiding public displays of affection, not pointing with your finger, and using your right hand for eating and greeting.

Embracing and respecting the rich cultural tapestry of South Sudan will not only enhance your travel experience but also foster mutual understanding and appreciation between you and the local communities.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in South Sudan are limited and unreliable, especially outside major cities. Travelers should exercise extreme caution and be prepared for potential delays or lack of assistance in emergency situations.

  • Medical Facilities: South Sudan has very few functioning hospitals and clinics, with inadequate medical supplies and staff. Many facilities lack basic amenities like running water and electricity. Travelers are advised to carry comprehensive medical kits and seek treatment in neighboring countries if possible.

  • Police and Security Services: The police force is understaffed and underfunded, with limited capacity to respond to emergencies or provide assistance to travelers. Violent crime and civil unrest are common, posing significant risks.

  • Fire Services: Fire departments are virtually non-existent, with minimal resources to combat fires, especially in rural areas.

  • Tourist-Specific Services: There are no dedicated emergency services or resources specifically for foreign travelers in South Sudan. Embassies and consulates may provide limited assistance to their citizens in case of emergencies.

Travelers should exercise extreme caution, avoid unnecessary risks, and have contingency plans in place for emergencies, as reliable assistance may not be readily available in South Sudan.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is South Sudan safe for tourists?

South Sudan is considered a high-risk destination for tourists due to ongoing civil conflicts, crime, and poor infrastructure. Travel is strongly discouraged, especially to border regions. If visiting, exercise extreme caution, use a reputable guide, and closely monitor travel advisories.

Is South Sudan safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travel in South Sudan is extremely risky due to high levels of crime, sexual violence, and cultural attitudes towards women. Women face significant risks of harassment, assault, and kidnapping. Solo travel is not recommended for female tourists.

Is South Sudan safe for families?

South Sudan is not recommended for family travel due to ongoing conflicts, poor medical facilities, and high risks of violence and disease. The lack of infrastructure and amenities also makes it challenging to travel with children.

Is South Sudan LGBTQ+ friendly?

South Sudan is not LGBTQ+-friendly. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal and punishable by imprisonment. LGBTQ+ individuals face widespread discrimination, harassment, and potential violence. Travel is not advised for LGBTQ+ tourists.

Do you need a visa to go to South Sudan?

A visa is required for most foreign nationals to enter South Sudan. Visitors from the United States, Canada, and the European Union can obtain a visa on arrival or through their embassy. However, travel is strongly discouraged due to ongoing conflicts and safety concerns.

Can you drink tap water in South Sudan?

Tap water is not safe to drink in South Sudan due to poor sanitation and water treatment facilities. Consuming tap water can lead to waterborne illnesses. Bottled or purified water is recommended for drinking and cooking.

What is the currency in South Sudan?

The official currency of South Sudan is the South Sudanese Pound (SSP). However, the US Dollar is widely accepted, especially in major cities and tourist areas. Credit cards are generally not accepted outside of major hotels.

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