Sudan has rejected a new US travel advisory warning Americans against visiting the country, particularly three conflict zones, due to risks of ‘terrorism and violent crimes’.
The latest advisory was issued by the US State Department on March 30 and posted on the website of the American embassy in Khartoum. It replaces a previous travel warning issued in January 2016.
It said ‘terrorist groups are active in Sudan and have stated their intent to harm Westerners and Western interests through suicide operations, bombings, shootings and kidnappings … Violent crimes targeting Westerners, including kidnappings, armed robberies, home invasions, and car-jacking, occur everywhere in Sudan but are particularly prevalent in the Darfur region.’
US citizens should also ‘avoid all travel’ to Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, two other hot-spots in Sudan, it said.
Sudan’s foreign ministry rejected the allegations. ‘This travel warning contradicts the reality on the ground because US, British and other diplomats have visited Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan and moved freely in these areas,’ a statement said. ‘Allegations that there are terrorist groups in Sudan are contradictory to all the praise and appreciation offered by high-ranking US officials for Khartoum’s role in fighting terrorism and extremism in the region.’
The ministry urged the state department to review the measure, saying improved relations with Washington are necessary and help serve the common goal of fighting terrorism.
The US designated Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and Khartoum has been subject to a US trade embargo since 1997 over its alleged support for Islamist groups. Before leaving office, president Barack Obama eased the sanctions, but kept Khartoum on the blacklist.
Early March, the foreign ministry summoned the most senior diplomat at the US embassy to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban which bars citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, including Sudan, from entering the US. A US judge has halted Trump’s travel ban.
Veteran Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to the conflict in Darfur. He denies the charges.