Safety and security
The security situation across South Sudan remains volatile with fighting escalating recently in parts of the country. Weapons are plentiful and easily obtained in South Sudan and criminals are often armed. Many armed men who are without jobs or have not been paid are resorting to criminality. Drive-by thefts by individuals or groups on motorbikes have been reported.
During the rainy season (June to October/November) most roads outside of Juba become impassable, and some parts of the country can become inaccessible.
There are daily reports of fighting between armed groups across the country. This includes Central Equatoria State, particularly around the city of Yei, as well as in Western Equatoria, Unity, and Upper Nile States. Criminal attacks have taken place on the main Juba-Nimule road, which is one of the main supply routes from Uganda into South Sudan. There are mined areas and unexploded ordnance in parts of the country, including in and around Juba.
If you’re currently in South Sudan you should exercise your own judgment, based on your knowledge of the local situation, media reporting, or advice from the UN.
Our ability to provide assistance outside Juba is severely limited. If you’re concerned about your safety, you should contact the FCO on +44 207 008 1500 or by email at email@example.com.
Driving conditions and standards in South Sudan are well below those in the UK and other European countries. Very few roads are surfaced and maintained. Residential areas usually have dirt roads. At night, there is almost no street lighting and many vehicles have no lights. Roads are used by pedestrians, donkey-carts and rickshaw-style cabs, as well as motor vehicles. Checkpoints, manned by armed men, demanding money from drivers and passengers are common, particularly after dark.
There is a high risk of being involved in a traffic accident when using public transport, as many vehicles are unsafe. There are many car crashes on the main road from Juba to Uganda, especially near the border, where drivers switch from driving on one side of the road to the other (in South Sudan they drive on the right).
Although drivers should have a licence and insurance, many don’t have these. Make sure you have adequate insurance.
You can find a list of incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network. An internal flight by a South Sudanese airline crashed in March 2017, although there were no fatalities.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of every individual airline, but the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices.
This list isn’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
Following the July 2016 crisis, when fighting broke out and the First Vice President was forced to flee the country, the political and security situation has remained volatile. Interlinked national and local level conflicts continue to drive a dire humanitarian situation across the country.
If you choose to remain in the country, you should follow political developments closely, and observe any curfews in place. In the event of civil disorder, stay at home and restrict your movements as much as possible, especially after dark. Avoid public gatherings, political rallies and protests.
There are credible reports of border incursions and engagements involving armed actors along all of South Sudan’s borders, particularly the border with Ethiopia. In March 2017 Ethiopia announced that it had sent troops across the border in to South Sudan to search for and bring back over 40 abducted children. A US journalist was killed in August 2017 near the town of Kaya close to the Ugandan border during a gunfight between government forces and armed rebels.
The economy remains in decline, which has led armed men to turn to criminality, including in Juba. Extortion at checkpoints by armed men, particularly after dark, is common. South Sudan is an extremely difficult environment for businesses and non-government organisations (NGOs) to operate in. A British national was killed on a NGO compound in February 2015 and foreign nationals have been subject to harassment, sexual assault, and crime.