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Sudan Country Report

Country Risk Level

High

Overview

Executive Summary

Sudan’s transitional authority, the Sovereign Council, and the armed coalition, the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF), initiated on 31 August a comprehensive peace agreement after a year of negotiations, in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. This agreement formally ends hostilities in Sudan’s conflict areas in Darfur, the “Two Areas” (South Kordofan and Blue Nile state), central Sudan, eastern Sudan, and northern Sudan.The peace agreement is likely to reduce the likelihood of attacks across Sudan, especially targeting military personnel and bases and government property. Although the SPLM-N led by El Hilu, which is the most capable armed group operating in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, has not signed the deal, it is unlikely to resume planned attacks, as any attack would risk jeopardising its prospects of participation in government affairs. Regardless of any renewed intent to stage attacks, armed groups have limited capability to do so.The peace agreement is likely to enable the enactment of new policy, improving Sudan’s prospects of receiving vital international concessional financing to help its economy recover. Sudan’s access to international financial aid is, however, contingent on the US delisting the country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. US failure to delist Sudan would delay the country’s economic recovery, thereby increasing the likelihood of renewed popular protests over high food prices and shortages. Sudan’s real GDP is likely to contract by another 8.4% in 2020 owing to restrictions related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Hyperinflation is likely to average 135% this year given the shortage of foreign currency, monetisation, and exchange-rate depreciation. The black-market exchange rate, which applies to 80% of transactions, reached near SDG190 per US dollar by late August 2020. The government intends to enact major reforms, including gradually devaluing the official rate, reducing fuel subsidies, and liberalising the gold market (Sudan’s largest export), which could significantly increase revenue.

Operational Outlook

Sudan's economy was largely controlled by the military and security services under former president Omar al-Bashir. Non-competitive direct tendering is common and favours political allies. The appointment of a largely civilian government reduces the likelihood of asset stripping during privatisation drives to encourage non-oil diversification, by selling off high-value assets to increase their net worth. This tactic has been prevalent in real estate. Power-sharing between the military and civilians reduces the likelihood of cross-sector action by the protest-leading Sudanese Professionals Association, but localised strikes likely to persist until macroeconomic indicators improve.

Terrorism

The power-sharing deal signed in August 2019 between the military and the opposition coalition increases the likelihood of successful peace negotiations between the transitional authority and Sudanese armed groups. Although peace negotiations have been postponed on 9 April, this reduces the likelihood of attacks targeting government buildings and security forces, especially in conflict areas of Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. Any attack would risk jeopardising armed groups’ prospects of participation and representation during the transition. Regardless of any renewed intent to stage attacks, armed groups have limited capability to do so, including a limited arsenal of small-arms, especially attacks against energy assets, which are usually protected by government armed forces.

Crime

Organised criminal networks operate in Darfur region and pose risks of extortion and theft to commercial ground cargo and non-governmental organisations, and to a lesser extent, in the Eastern region. Makeshift illegal checkpoints are common throughout the region and vehicles are likely to face extortion. Chadian organised crime groups affiliated to elements of the disbanded Union of Forces for Democracy and Development are targeting cargo transiting the Sudanese stretch of the A5 highway from Abéché in Chad to Al-Junaynah, Sudan, a strategic supply corridor. The trafficking of goods and people regularly occurs along the Sudanese-Eritrean border, typically being facilitated by members of the Rashaida ethnic group. The incoming government is likely to seek to improve transparency on financial crimes, although we expect investigations to target only a few figures close to former president Bashir. This would, nonetheless, improve Sudan's prospects of being removed from the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list in the one-year outlook.

War Risks

Prior to Omar al-Bashir's overthrow as president in April 2019, Egypt was threatened by Sudan's engagement with Turkey and Ethiopia, and due to stalling negotiations over Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Nonetheless, the leader of the Transitional Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, is a strong ally of Egypt, reducing the risk of conflict. Separately, sovereignty disputes are triggers for border skirmishes with South Sudan; however, mutual economic dependence on maintaining oil transit through Sudan would facilitate de-escalation. Flashpoints are the disputed Heglig and Abyei, and Malakal bordering Blue Nile and South Kordofan, which controls access to oil blocks 3 and 7. South Sudan is less militarily capable than Sudan.

Social Stability

The power-sharing deal between the military and the opposition coalition has significantly reduced the likelihood of large-scale protests in Khartoum and Sudan’s other major cities, such as Atbara and Port Sudan. Smaller protests are, however, likely surrounding corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency, as well as localised and largely peaceful protests are very likely to reoccur in provincial cities, over high food prices and fuel shortages. This is especially as Hemedti will likely seek to safeguard his and the Bashir old guard's vested interests.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over nine months of age. A certificate may be required for travelers departing Sudan.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Intense sand storms (haboobs) can strike the country from March to August and can result in disruptions to transportation as well as respiratory problems.

Rainfall is possible in some central and southern regions during the summer (July to September). While rainfall is usually relatively light, it can result in flash flooding. During the summer 2016, more than 122,000 people have been affected by major flooding, with 13,000 homes destroyed. Flooding has also hindered access to drinking water, food, and health facilities, particularly in isolated and poverty-stricken areas, where various outbreaks of disease have been reported. Furthermore, many roads become impassable following episodes of rain.

In late July 2014, Khartoum was also hit by major flooding, resulting in major travel disruptions.

Transportation

High

Travel restrictions are in effect for much of the country. Foreign nationals must apply for a « travel book » for all trips outside of Khartoum state. This can been requested at Sudanese embassies worldwide when applying for a visa, or at the Ministry of Tourism. The travel book is generally available within 48 hours. It must be kept on hand at all times and will be asked for at checkpoints.

When undertaking any journey by car, individuals should be aware that roads are often unpaved and in poor condition. During the rainy season (July to September) many roads become impassable. Road accidents are common, in part due to the general disregard for the rules of the road. Driving at night should be avoided. Any travel outside the capital should be undertaken within a convoy of at least two cars, with an armed escort depending on the region, and with the necessary equipment to deal with automotive issues (spare tire, jumper cables, extra gas), as gas stations in rural zones are few and far between. A stock of food and water as well as a dependable means of communication are also imperative.

It is important to vary daily itineraries and schedules and to let a trusted individual know of all trips ahead of time.

Public transit in all forms should be avoided due to the poor condition of vehicles and the sometimes dangerous driving habits of conductors. A system of private long-distance buses connect the country's cities.

All domestic flights are operated by Sudanese airlines, all of which appear on the European Union's "black list" of airlines banned from operating in EU airspace. Sudanese airlines should be avoided altogether as accidents are possible. An international Sudan Airways flight crashed on June 10, 2008, while attempting to land at Khartoum's airport (30 dead out of 214 people onboard). A flight operated by the Sudanese Tarco Airlines also crashed while attempting to land, this time in Zalingei, on November 11, 2010 (six dead).

A rail system exists, notably linking Khartoum and Port Sudan, but security and comfort are poor.

Practical Information

Climate

Sudan’s climate varies by region. The north and northwest (Libyan Desert) is arid and rain is rare; sandstorms are common from April to September. The central region receives some rainfall in July and August; the south experiences a rainy season lasting from May until October. Summers are very hot, even scorching, throughout the country; winters are cooler in the north.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +249
Police: 999
Fire Dept.: 999
Ambulance: 999

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal