Stay Safe in Sudan
Sudanese security has several facets. On the one hand, stealing is almost unheard of; you will never be robbed on the street, and people will go to tremendous lengths to guarantee your safety. Sudan, on the other hand, has a lengthy history of war, a government that is not especially transparent or responsible, and widespread corruption under the surface. The following material outlines some of the possible hazards that a tourist should be aware of.
When South Sudan was still a part of Sudan, there was a 40-year civil war between the central government in Khartoum and non-Muslim rebel parties in the south. Following South Sudan’s independence, relations between the two nations have remained fluid, contentious, and complex.
The well-publicized war in Darfur continues, making travel to Sudan’s western regions completely unadvisable.
Sudan is one of just four nations in the world that does not adhere to international aviation safety standards. Sudan Airways, the official national airline, operates mostly Soviet-made aircraft from the 1950s. Some aircraft lack navigation, illumination, or essential landing gear. Sudan was the most hazardous nation for domestic aviation travel last year, with over 27 deadly accidents in the Northern region alone.
It is also difficult to enter Sudan by personal vehicle. Sudan’s border with Egypt is heavily fortified, and Westerners seeking to cross the border are increasingly encountering difficulties.
Bus travel has its own set of problems. Some buses are better than others – some are superb, with icy-cold AC and complimentary refreshments, while others may be less so. There is nothing worse than spending almost an entire day on a sweltering bus (did we mention there is no A/C?) with a group of jabbering Egyptian tourists.
There is virtually little chance of being physically assaulted (mugged) for your belongings, but keep a watch on them in public areas, such as street cafés. Sometimes criminals work in teams, with one distracting you while the other steals your belongings. Pickpocketing has been reported in Sudan as well.
If you dress and behave properly for an Islamic nation, lone female travel is generally secure (in regions untouched by civil conflict). You’ll raise a few eyebrows, but you’ll be treated with tremendous respect in general. Women should, in general, travel in groups, and much better, with males.
Police and army
You’ll see armed cops and military people everywhere, but you won’t have any issues with them unless you break a regulation, such as photographing or recording in forbidden locations. Travelers have been known to be targeted by Sudanese police for bribes. So, if you’re stopped for whatever reason, make sure you pay them.
The regulations for shooting photographs in Sudan are extremely stringent. To begin, you’ll need a photography permission, which will specify where you can and cannot shoot photographs. It’s easy to get into problems by photographing or recording military people or facilities. People have been detained in Khartoum for photographing the confluence of the Blue and White Niles.
Alcohol use is prohibited in Sudan, which is an Islamic nation. Homosexuality is a crime that carries a death penalty. In most cases, the death penalty for homosexuality is only applied after the second or third crime. For both men and women, the first crime typically entails imprisonment and a thousand lashes (which is virtually the death penalty anyway, it would be surprising if anyone could survive that sort of harsh punishment). The government’s punishment of individuals found guilty of homosexual activities is based on a rigorous interpretation of Islamic Sharia Law. If a foreigner is caught for performing a homosexual behavior, he or she will most likely be issued a warning if “really regretful” or treated similarly to the Sudanese citizen. If you are arrested, request consular help from your government.
Stay Healthy in Sudan
Because Sudan is a malaria-prone area, take extra precautions during the rainy season. Southern regions are home to poisonous snakes, spiders, and scorpions.
Drinking water should be done with caution. Make sure you drink bottled water or filter your water using purifying tablets. Also, stay away from any fruit drinks, since they are almost certainly prepared with local water. Also, keep in mind that any ice cubes (such as those found in sodas) are just frozen local water.
Long journeys on public transportation (especially during the summer) make it difficult – or prohibitively costly – to carry the quantity of bottled water required, and it may be limited at certain distant stations. As a result, have enough of your preferred method of filtration on hand (not in your roof-mounted baggage!). In certain places, sanitation is non-existent, so wash your hands often.
Food from street sellers is usually acceptable provided it is cooked and served on a regular basis. Food remaining exposed and unrefrigerated for hours at a time is frequently indicated by empty restaurants and street cafés.
Sudanese money is notoriously filthy, and even Sudanese people try to avoid handling tiny banknotes. To treat your hands after handling dirty cash notes or shaking too many unclean hands, have antibacterial wipes or gel in your baggage.
Ebola outbreaks were recorded in Sudan in 2004, and local hospital treatment is not recommended unless there is a true emergency. If you experience symptoms similar to malaria, get medical help as soon as possible. Medical treatment is also accessible at many private clinics with excellent standards and affordable prices. Here are some of these private clinics: (Doctors Clinic, Africa St., Fidail Medical Center, Downtown Hospital Road, Yastabshiron Medical Center, Riyadh area, Modern Medical Center, Africa St., International Hospital, Khartoum north-Alazhary St.)
Avoid bathing or strolling across slow-flowing fresh rivers if you have Schistosomiasis or Bilharzia. Seek medical care if you have come into touch with such water or if you develop an itching rash or fevers after returning home. You may need to visit a tropical medicine expert if your doctor in the West just thinks to test you for malaria.