The United States has warned its citizens against any travels to South Sudan due to coronavirus pandemic and what it determined as a surge in the level of violent crime.
The country’s Department of State issued a “Do Not Travel” alerts for South Sudan and Somalia. It placed the two countries in Level 4, the highest level of travel advisories.
A travel advisory is an official warning statement issued by government agencies to provide information about the relative safety of travelling to or visiting one or more specific foreign countries or destinations
The US said there is an increasing prevalence of coronavirus within South Sudan, and travellers may be exposed to kidnappings, and armed conflicts.
It stated that those wishing to visit South Sudan may experience border closures, airport closures, travel prohibitions, stay at home orders, business closures, and other emergency conditions within South Sudan due to coronavirus.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for South Sudan due to COVID-19,” it stated.
The South Sudanese government has relaxed most of the pandemic restrictions, including reopening the airport for domestic and international flights.
It has also lifted the ban on several businesses, including bars and restaurants.
President Salva Kiir, Sunday, went further to lift the ban on religious gatherings by asking churches to reopen.
There were no specific guidelines given to those reopening. Kiir said the country should learn to live with the pandemic.
On Thursday, August 6, 2020, the US Department of State issued a travel advisory for most East African countries.
It singled out violent crime, such as carjacking’s, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, and kidnappings is common throughout South Sudan, including Juba.
The department claimed foreign nationals have been the victims of rape, sexual assault, armed robberies, and other violent crimes in the country.
“Violent crime, such as carjacking’s, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, and kidnappings is common throughout South Sudan, including Juba,” it stressed.
The red alert further noted that armed conflict is ongoing in South Sudan, and includes fighting between various political and ethnic groups.
In addition, it said cattle raids occur throughout the country and weapons are readily available to the population.
There have been reports of clashes between the SSPDF and the opposition National Salvation Forces, and with the SPLA-IO in Central Equatoria, with the latest incident happening in Luri mining area.
Since January 2020, communal clashes over suspected cattle theft and revenge attacks have been an occurrence in Jonglei, Unity, Warrap and Lakes states.
The US affirmed that family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in South Sudan.
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan. U.S. government personnel in South Sudan are under a strict curfew,” it said.
It also cautioned journalist wishing to enter South Sudan of the dangers they may encounter reporting without the proper documentation from the South Sudanese Media Authority.
It reminded Journalists of regular reports of harassments while operating in South Sudan, and killing of many while covering the conflict.
“…any journalistic work there is very dangerous,” the Department of State affirmed.
As part of individual contingent plans for US citizens visiting South Sudan, the travel notice urges them to exercise extreme care in all parts of the country, including Juba.
It advised them to travel outside of Juba with a minimum of two vehicles along with appropriate recovery and medical equipment in case of mechanical failure or other emergencies.
It cautioned against travelling along the border areas, or attending “events intended to be peaceful that can become violent.”
South Sudan’s main ports of entry such as Nimule, Nadapal and Renk are open with limited restrictions for commercial and passenger vehicles.
The Department of State further said travellers should leave behind their expensive belonging, leave DNA samples with your medical provider, draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries should anything happen to them while in South Sudan.
“Exercise extreme care in all parts of the country, including Juba. Monitor local/international news and consular messages.”
The State Department also raised the levels of its advisories on travel to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.
Other East African nations
On Kenya, travellers are urged to “exercise increased caution in Kenya due to crime, terrorism, health issues and kidnapping.”
They are specifically warned not to travel to Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River and Lamu counties, as well as the northern part of Malindi, due to threats of terrorism and violent crime. Eastleigh and Kibera districts in Nairobi are also listed as no-go areas.
The State Department advises that travel to Rwanda should be reconsidered, as the country resumed most transportation options.
It added that travel to Tanzania should also be reconsidered because of coronavirus concerns.
Uganda is also placed in the Level 3 category although it is yet to resume international flights and border crossing.
Via Eye Radio