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Sudan 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Africa > Sudan; Africa > Sudan > Khartoum

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Khartoum does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED KHARTOUM AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Sudan-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

The January 2017 lifting of sanctions for Sudan presents both challenges and opportunities for a peaceful and prosperous country at peace with itself and with its neighbors. As international businesses move in to take advantage of years of political and economic isolation, it is hoped that the government will use all resources at its disposal to ensure safety of investors, but it is prudent for businesses to be informed of the security situation and plan accordingly.

Crime Threats

Crime rates remain relatively low in north and central Sudan, including Khartoum state. In 2016, U.S. Embassy Khartoum has received no reports of Americans being targeted for criminal activity in Khartoum and/or north/central Sudan. Criminal activity is generally non-violent and non-confrontational.

Most crimes reported are property crimes (motor vehicle theft, burglary, larceny-theft, arson). Pickpocketing, bag snatches, smash-and-grabs, and car break-ins have also been reported. Double-edged knives and machetes continue to be the weapons of choice in violent assaults.

Carjackings by gangs and militia groups continue to be a common occurrence throughout the Darfur region. The threat of other violent crimes (home invasions, armed robberies, kidnappings) is particularly high in Darfur, as the government has limited capacity and resources to combat crime there. In addition, government-supported militias and other heavily-armed Darfuri rebel groups are known to have carried out criminal attacks against internally displaced persons, vulnerable migrants, and other foreigners.

In the eastern region, organized crime networks are engaged in smuggling and trafficking activities through the porous borders with Eritrea and Ethiopia. The government is attempting to address this problem with an intensive focus on anti-trafficking efforts; however, authorities often do not have the resources to confront these groups.

Cybersecurity Issues

Poor information infrastructure leads to a wide range of risks in cyberspace. Cyber actors, with varying levels of sophistication, are developing capabilities to commit crime and to support terrorism activities. Terrorist groups are known to use platforms in cyberspace, mainly through social networks, to promote their agendas in Sudan and to support their recruitment efforts.

The government of Sudan monitors the Internet, including e-mail correspondence, through the National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC) and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Cyber-Crimes Unit websites, and proxy servers judged to have violated norms of public morality are blocked.    

Other Areas of Concern

There is a Travel Warning in place for Sudan. The ability of U.S. Embassy Khartoum to provide services to U.S. citizens in emergency situations outside of the Khartoum area is limited and dependent on security conditions. The ability to provide assistance is particularly limited in southern Sudan and in Darfur.

The U.S. Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan states, and advises them to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan. All of Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan states should be avoided unless the traveling party has business with either a Sudanese government agency or a humanitarian NGO; even then, close attention should be paid to security considerations, as areas of Darfur can become dangerous on short notice. Air travel is the recommended mode of travel and, in many cases, is the only form of transportation.

Travel outside of metropolitan Khartoum can be challenging. Before traveling anywhere outside of Khartoum, you should check news reports and local conditions prior to departure. You may be required to first obtain the proper travel authorization from the government. If travel is approved, you should carry multiple copies of the authorization with you, as authorities will require them at checkpoints across the country.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Driving conditions are hazardous throughout most of Sudan. Drivers should always be aware of unsafe, poorly maintained road surfaces, unskilled drivers, and the presence of non-roadworthy vehicles. In general, the main roads in Khartoum and north/central Sudan are paved but haphazardly maintained. A turn off a main road could lead to blocks of unpaved dirt, potholed roads. At night, most streets are poorly or not illuminated at all, and many drivers do not use headlights. Drivers often do not comply with traffic regulations. Driving excessively fast or very slowly is common on the main roads. Drivers commonly ignore traffic signals, stop in traffic lanes, make turns from the opposite lane with complete disregard for oncoming traffic, and drive against traffic in lanes meant for one direction. In addition, roads can contain poorly-maintained vehicles, three-wheeled motorized taxi vehicles, donkey carts, unrestrained livestock, overloaded tandem-axle cargo trucks, and pedestrians. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report, Driving Overseas: Best Practices or Road Safety in Africa.

Those who are involved in traffic accidents should summon police assistance. It is inadvisable to make restitution at the scene, especially if livestock/ pedestrians are involved. Drivers should be aware of potential crowds gathering at the scene of an accident and should depart the scene if they perceive an imminent threat to their safety.

Arrangements should be made with your in-country business partners or your hotel to secure trusted transportation.

Public Transportation Conditions

Public transportation is dominated by three-wheeled motorized vehicles, taxis, and mini-buses. Bus travel is normally limited to within and between major towns. Vehicles are often poorly maintained. Passenger facilities are basic and crowded. Bus schedules are often unpublished and subject to change without notice. While there is some public transit to rural communities, most areas lack standardized and well-maintained public transportation.  

Aviation/Airport Conditions

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), there are 12 airports in Sudan with paved runways. Khartoum International Airport is in the capital city, is the largest airport in the country, and serves airlines from across Africa and the Middle East. A new Khartoum Airport is under construction 40 km south of Khartoum. It is designed to replace Khartoum International Airport with an initial passenger capacity of 7.5 million per annum. 

Other airports with paved runways are: Damazin Airport, Dongola Airport, Ed Daein Airport, El Fasher Airport, El Obeid Airport, Geneina Airport, Kadugli Airport, Kassala Airport, Nyala Airport, Port Sudan Airport, and Zalingei Airport.

Maintain constant contact with your baggage and ensure it does not contain illicit items (alcohol, pornography, objects that could be used as weapons). U.S. citizens have been removed from international airlines and detained when suspect items have been detected in checked baggage.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED KHARTOUM AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Elements of ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Boko Haram are believed to recruit in Sudan. The government of Sudan has taken steps to limit the activities of these terrorist organizations and has worked to disrupt foreign fighters’ use of Sudan as a logistics base and transit point. Sudan enacted legislation to combat organized crimes (human trafficking) and was delisted from the Financial Action Task Force watch list related to terrorism financing.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED KHARTOUM AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

The situations in Darfur, Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and the disputed area of Abyei have deteriorated due to the armed conflict among rebel groups, tribes, government-supported militias, and the government. Violent flare-ups break out between armed militia groups and military forces with little notice, particularly in the Darfur region and in areas on the border with South Sudan. Hostilities between security forces and armed opposition groups in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, including the disputed area of Abyei, present a real and immediate danger to travelers.

Anti-government protests and localized demonstrations occur periodically in Khartoum.

  • In April-July 2016, there were protests throughout Sudan, to include Khartoum, against the detention of university students. Some protestors reportedly threw rocks and resisted law enforcement. The Sudanese government responded aggressively by using water cannon, tear gas, and arresting student protestors. 
  • In December 2016, there were calls for civil disobedience in the form of work stoppage. People were asked to stay in their homes and not go to work or school. Though there was limited participation, the call for civil disobedience received attention via social media.
  • In December 2015, students of the Sudan University of Science and Technology protested the shortage of propane gas, high prices of bread, the general increase in the cost of living, and the deterioration of services provided by the state. A small segment of the protestors burned trash and threw Molotov cocktails. Security forces were deployed, and the protestors were dispersed with no casualties reported.
  • In January 2015, demonstrations in protest of the Charlie Hebdo satirical publication were organized but were well-controlled by authorities and quickly dispersed.


Religious/Ethnic Violence

The African Union-United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) consistently reports on incidents of religious/ethnic violence throughout the five Darfur states. In early January 2016, UNAMID reported that clashes between Arab nomads and Tama tribesmen left four Masalit tribe villages burnt and an undetermined number of casualties. 

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Areas adjacent to the Nile River are subject to flooding during the rainy season (July-September). In 2016, local media reported that from June-July, the Nile reached levels not seen in nearly a century, causing floods throughout Sudan. The flooding resulted in loss of life and destruction of homes and property.

During the summer, Sudan experiences many haboobs (dust storms). These haboobs move in as a wall of sand, extending upward of 3,000 feet, and can contain winds of up to 70 mph. Haboobs generally last no more than three hours but can severely hamper road/air travel for many hours afterward.

Critical Infrastructure

Power outages and interruptions to the water supply system are a common occurrence in Khartoum. Transportation infrastructure, specifically the railway system, is heavily deteriorated. Most of the historical infrastructure is run-down and clearly shows a lack of maintenance.

The telecommunications infrastructure appears to be the most vulnerable.

  • In December 2015, one of the local Internet service providers reported an act of sabotage that destroyed their primary network cabling in Khartoum, resulting in interruptions of service and slow Internet connections for multiple days.   


Economic Concerns

With lax laws protecting intellectual property rights and with the rise of digital technologies, some local businesses promote their services, products, and establishments with clear references to American companies’ trademarks. 

Privacy Concerns

There is no expectation of privacy and no legal protection against you or your personal effects being searched/seized. Additionally, phone conversations and internet usage may be monitored by the government.

Personal Identity Concerns

Sudan is an extremely conservative society, particularly in the capital and other areas where the Muslim population is the majority. Modest dress and behavior is expected for everyone, including foreigners. Loose, long-sleeved shirts and full-length skirts/slacks are recommended for female visitors. Men may wear short-sleeved shirts, but not short pants, in public.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnapping foreigners for ransom occurred in 2016, particularly in Darfur. These kidnappings have hindered humanitarian operations. The motives behind the kidnappings appeared to be primarily financial. Some abductees have been released unharmed after being held for as little as a few hours. Despite calls by various terrorist organizations for jihad against UN forces in Darfur, there is no indication that the reported kidnappings are motivated by extremist religious ideology.

Police Response

While most police officers are generally helpful, language/cultural barriers sometimes lead to misunderstandings between Sudanese law enforcement and Westerners. Very rarely will a police officer assigned to patrol duties or a checkpoint speak English.

If you break local laws in Sudan, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest/prosecution. Persons violating Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Photography requires a photo permit, but even with this permit, photographing security forces, government buildings, poor neighborhoods, and anything else that may cause embarrassment to the government is prohibited. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

If stopped by the police, remain calm and do not respond with aggression. Present your identification documents and answer questions fully.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Sudanese security forces are known to detain individuals arbitrarily and without warrants for arrests. U.S. citizens have been arrested/detained without notification to the U.S. Embassy and without consular access. Dual Sudanese-U.S. citizens should be aware that the Sudanese government does not recognize their U.S. citizenship for consular purposes and does not provide the U.S. Embassy with courtesy notifications or access to detained dual nationals.

If you are detained, immediately request a consular notification to the U.S. Embassy’s Duty Officer.

Crime Victim Assistance

999 - Reserve Police: This number should be called to report a crime or seek assistance in an emergency. An English speaker is unreliably assigned to each shift. The dispatcher can transfer calls as necessary.

998 - Fire Brigade (Civil Defense Police)

333 - Central Ambulance

Police/Security Agencies

Police General Administration of Passports, Immigration and Identity Cards: Altair Mard St., Khartoum / Tel: 1-837-82338.

Police General Administration of Central Investigations: Abed Khatim St., Khartoum / Tel: 999.

Police General Administration of Prisons and Reformation: Alzaber Basha St., Khartoum / Tel: 999.

Police General Administration of Civil Defense: Katrina St., Khartoum / Tel: 1-834-67777 or in case of a fire please dial 998.

Police General Administration of Wildlife Protection: Madni St., Khartoum / Tel: 999.

Police General Administration of Customs: Haray St., Khartoum / Tel: 999.

Police General Administration of States’ Affairs: Nile St., Khartoum / Tel: 1-837-83508.

Police General Administration of Public Order: Jamhory St., Almogran area, Khartoum / Tel: 999.

Police General Administration of Central Traffic: Madni St., Soba area, Khartoum / Tel: 777.

General Administration of Popular Police: Jamhory St., Almogran area, Khartoum / Tel: 999.

Medical Emergencies

All substantial medical services are located in Khartoum. In all other states, local medical assistance is limited. Though economic sanctions have been recently lifted, credit cards and most checks cannot be used for payment of medical services.

Those that have prescription medications should have an adequate supply with them when traveling. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, Traveling with Medications.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Royal Care International Hospital
Burri, Khartoum / Tel: 1-565-50150 / http://royalcare.sd 

  • Fedail Hospita

Hospital Street, Khartoum / Tel: 1-837-66661 / www.fedailhospital.net 

  • Sahiroon Specialized Hospital

Burri, Khartoum / Tel: 1-832-65316

Insurance Guidance

U.S. Embassy Khartoum strongly recommends that travelers make arrangements for air ambulance/medical evacuation insurance coverage before visiting Sudan.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The U.S. Embassy suggests that travelers carry a laminated card listing blood type and any medical conditions. It is also recommended to include in the card a request, in Arabic, to be transported to a hospital with higher standards in case of a medical emergency.

Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended.

All travelers should have an updated vaccination card with evidence of Yellow Fever vaccination.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Sudan.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is currently no active Country Council in Khartoum. Please contact OSAC’s Africa team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Khartoum or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

The U.S. Embassy is located at U.S. Embassy Road, Kilo 10, Soba, Khartoum. The hours of operation are 0800-1630, Sun-Thur.

Embassy Contact Numbers

Embassy Operator: (249) 1-870-22000

Embassy Duty Officer: (249) 912-141-483

Consular section: ACSKhartoum@state.gov.

Website: http://sudan.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

Review expiration dates and validity of your travel documents before traveling to Sudan. Passengers with evidence of travel to Israel in their passports are banned entry into Sudan. Always travel with extra copies of your traveling documents and your vaccination records. Permits and health inspection records are required for all pets.

Exit visas are required to leave Sudan, and travelers staying past their visa’s expiration date will be required to pay the Sudanese government overstay charges before being allowed to leave.

If the security situation worsens or if specific threats affecting the safety of U.S. citizens are discovered, the Embassy will make this information available through the U.S. Embassy website and by messages communicated through our warden system. Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens in Sudan can be found online.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Sudan should register their presence in the country through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By registering, U. S. citizens will be included in the Embassy’s warden e-mail message distribution list.

Additional Resources

Sudan Country Information Sheet