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Juba via Nairobi

I’m heading to South Sudan in Jan/Feb of 2013. I’ve been out that way before; but not since independence. Also, the last time I went in 2009, I took care of all my Sudanese visa paperwork via the GoSS mission in Washington, D.C.

This time around, it’s a lot more practical to go to Nairobi en route in terms of both time and money.

Anyone have any experience in what paperwork I need to get off the plane in Nairobi, and what to expect in getting a journalist/photography visa/permit for South Sudan in Nairobi?

Also, when last I was out that way, there were 5-6 flights per day between Juba and Nairobi at about $100USD/person/flight ($200USD round-trip). Is that still the case?

by Will Seberger at 2012-09-10 18:55:55 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Hi Will, I was just in Juba in May – can you mail me at elizadeacon@gmail.com and I’ll tell you what i had to do re paperwork, visas, costs, flights etc etc (at least as of may!)
cheers, Eliza

by Eliza Deacon | 11 Sep 2012 13:09 | Arusha , Tanzania | | Report spam→
I was there in June. You can get your visa in Nairobi but it takes a couple days. And you can get your shooting permit in Juba. It was $50 when I was there. Email if you have other questions. christenadowsett@gmail.com

Eliza do you get up to Nairobi often?

by Christena Dowsett | 13 Sep 2012 08:09 | entebbe, Uganda | | Report spam→
Hi both, i’m back online again thankfully (mostly offline at the moment, very frustrating!).

I got my visa on arrival at Juba Airport; we received so much mixed info regarding this – some people said you have to go to Nairobi first to get it, others said they had picked it up on arrival and it was easy. So we went for the latter and it was absolutely fine, and easy. It cost $100.

We were also told we had to have filming permits and an invitation letter, but we got those through IRIN (who we were working for). No-one ever looked at those, at least outside of the story we were doing.

Forget the dates, but these were the flights on offer:

Fly 540
> 2. 5H 721 I 10MAY NBOJUB HS1 0930 1100
> 3. 5H 724 I 17MAY JUBNBO HS1 1700 1830

Kenya Airways
> 2. KQ 352 Q 09MAY NBOJUB HS1 1250 1425
> 3. KQ 353 Q 17MAY JUBNBO HS1 1515 1650

Kenya Airways was the most expensive at $879 return but this also included the flight from Kilimanjaro to Nairobi return. Also a very expensive Air Uganda option via Entebbe.

Found Juba VERY expensive in terms of food, accommodation etc.

Christena, I’m not so far south of you in Moshi, up on Kilimanjaro….but sadly don’t get to Nairobi as often as I would like :)

Cheers, Eliza

by Eliza Deacon | 13 Sep 2012 12:09 | Arusha , Tanzania | | Report spam→
agreed on all the above. Especially no one looking at the shooting permit and Juba being horribly expensive.

Eliza, next time you jump over the hill give a holler. ;)

by Christena Dowsett | 13 Sep 2012 12:09 | Nairobi, Kenya | | Report spam→
Hi, I am a Photgrapher/Photojounalist based in South Africa and is also planning to travel to South Sudan in Jan/Feb2013. It is my first post on LS. Thank you for posting the info it help alot and will save time. Also hope to meet some of you when i get to Nairobi.

by Nicky Olckers | 13 Sep 2012 12:09 | Johannesburg, South Africa | | Report spam→
Nicky, I gather things there are changing all the time with regards to what you need to get in. I finally spoke to a chap I know who lives there, runs a security company, and he was the one who told me to just go there and get the visa on arrival, which was spot on. BUT…I also got the impression this can can change at very short notice. We were also told don’t even attempt to arrive – with camera gear – if you don’t have an invite letter and letters of permission from an organisation inside South Sudan, but no-one (outside of the story, as I mentioned) looked at those when we arrived at the airport or when we ran into anyone. If you want, nearer the time, I can ask my security chap for an update on the latest.

Christena, will do for sure :) – hope all good up there!

by Eliza Deacon | 13 Sep 2012 12:09 (ed. Sep 13 2012) | Arusha , Tanzania | | Report spam→
Eliza, i will appreciate any advice and or updates closer to the time. I will most definitely have camera gear. I subscribed to this thread and will receive updates via my email. You can also mail me at nicolene.olckers@foto24.co.za. My trip is in planning phase and not sure of the rest of my itinerary. But will appreciate your updates and advice. Thank You

by Nicky Olckers | 13 Sep 2012 12:09 | Johannesburg, South Africa | | Report spam→
Thank you all for such informative posts. I’m still looking into things, and will include any information I find along the way here. If flights from NBO to JUB are really approaching a thousand bucks per seat, direct into Juba might be the way to go.

by Will Seberger | 18 Sep 2012 21:09 | Tucson, Arizona, United States | | Report spam→
Looks like I’m heading back up to South Sudan for most of November. Let me know if you guys have any other questions and I’ll try to help.

by Christena Dowsett | 06 Oct 2012 18:10 | Gulu, Uganda | | Report spam→
my plans put me in Juba Dec 19th if anyone is around that wants to meet up. Does anyone know much about using the UN flights to get around the country?

What I’ve gotten so far is that Juba is extremely expensive comapared to the conditions and that you MUST get the photo pass. Several other photographers have cited harrassment by officials when people did not have one.

Also wondering if anyone here has a reliable fixer with active SPLA contacts. I have a few I’m talking with now but would prefer someone recomended.

Also, Ciaro now has daily flights to Juba.

by Cengiz | 10 Oct 2012 12:10 | Chicago, United States | | Report spam→
I heard, yesterday, of a change in practice by the government: the still photo/filming permit is now $4,000USD and available only in Juba.

Has anyone else heard of this?

by Will Seberger | 06 Jan 2013 16:01 | Tucson, Arizona, United States | | Report spam→
Hello All,
I am going back into South Sudan in October. I haven’t been there since December 2010. Much has changed with the new government. I need to know the latest accurate news about visas and photo/filming permit. What is needed, where is best to obtain it, what is the cost? Thank you.

by Joe Sindorf | 17 Jun 2013 19:06 | Ohio, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
I had a project die on the vine this spring as a result of new policies. Per OFFICIAL policy (take that as you will), journalist/filming visas and permits cost $4,000USD and are available ONLY in Juba. I was told by the GoSS that the fee may be partly reduced after-the-fact if you allow the government editorial control over what you take out of the country. This was confirmed with GoSS in DC, as well as an in-country business travel liaison.

I was warned that upon entering the country at Juba, and while awaiting permit clearance, the government may choose to impound equipment and return it only when A) you get your permit or B) you leave the country.

Further, they’ve made it harder to work without an appropriate visa/permit. SOP at Juba is to question any non-local with any kind of recording devices according to a friend in the government in Juba. Additionally, immigration officers at Juba have taken to Googling people entering the country with equipment to determine why they’re there.

They’ve also apparently clamped down on where even permitted/visa’d journalists can go in-country. Subject to the whim of whomever you’re working with. I’m told that the permit is issued under very specific terms, and that any real or perceived violation of those terms is subject to deportation or worse.

These folks really do not like international press anymore. Not that they ever really did, but Bashir’s government was easier to deal with than GoSS.

A radio reporter colleague of mine was stopped outside of Wau in March (with permission to be there, and an appropriate license), hit up for an extra fee and, despite paying it, had his Marantz deck, mic and iPhone smashed with a rifle butt by SPLA soldiers.

Per the old ways, even on a tourist visa you are still required to have a sponsor family/business/reference in-country. Turnaround for visas handled in DC is 3-6 weeks, and about 4 days in Nairobi. BUT, even getting a tourist visa in Nairobi will be tough if they suspect you have anything at all to do with press or certain verboten humanitarian groups.

Given that I was intending to move with a film crew and a considerable amount of equipment, I had no choice but to comply with all applicable immigration laws. Can’t exactly go sneaking around like that. Given cost and zero access, I punted.

The NGOs in-country are all getting messed with pretty heavily by Kiir’s government, and generally want nothing to do with press, for fear of retribution. That includes logistical support, access and interviews.

I’m now considering an UN embed as a means of getting I/C without dealing with the GoSS.

Of course, if you ask 10 different people you’ll get 10 different answers, but I’m pretty well connected with government and citizens over there, and it’s a total disaster.

It’s one of those places where if you get caught sneaking in these days, the outcomes are ever worse.

Too bad, because they need the coverage now more than ever.

by Will Seberger | 17 Jun 2013 19:06 | Tucson, Arizona, United States | | Report spam→
It sounds like much of the problem lies in and around Juba. What if someone were to fly directly from Wilson in Nairobi to Loki, and then to a dirt strip somewhere in Bar el Ghazal? It used to be that you could clear customs and immigration in Loki. Is that still the case? It might be much easier… what do you think?

by Joe Sindorf | 17 Jun 2013 19:06 | Ohio, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
Will, what type of work were you doing? And how much gear were you trying to carry in?

Unless things have changed significantly since I was there last September, that was not my experience at all. And another photojournalist friend of mine doing newspaper work based in Juba hasn’t had many problems either.

Granted once I got my shooting permit I steered clear of police and military. And most of my work was in the field, not Juba.

But maybe that played much more into my ability to shoot than I thought.

by Christena Dowsett | 17 Jun 2013 20:06 | Dallas, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
Three-person crew, full multimedia capabilities. Still, audio and video. Not a ton of equipment by any means, but you throw a camera on a set of sticks, and it turns heads even in the US.

Around November is when things started to change. New policies came into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

When I was there, I had no problems at all – except one secret police guy looking for a handout at Juba Market. He accused me of photographing a soldier (never saw a soul in uniform in the market) and wanted my equipment for ‘inspection.’ We settled on a $10SDN ‘fine’ payable at the scene. No problems at all in the villages in Jonglei or Western Equatoria States.

Like I said, ask 10 people, and you’ll get 10 different responses/experiences. See above about my buddy who had his gear smashed a few months ago.

The story I got from a travel liaison in Juba is that somewhere around November 2012, a “BBC” film crew (the military thinks anyone with a video camera is BBC or Jazeera as determined by skin color/language rather than any practical affiliations) recorded an SPLM disarmament of a tribal village; including alleged SPLA soldiers allegedly assaulting women and children. Kiir’s government said that these were absolutely not SPLA soldiers, but rather rebels. No professional soldier would ever harm civilians. Just ask women in Okinawa.

Back to the point. After that, they severely closed doors on foreign press. People I know working I/C right now are generally afraid to leave for fear of being denied re-entry.

Ghazal or a strip in the interior otherwise probably is possible or doable from Kampala or Nairobi. The hardest part is getting equipment through customs without arousing suspicion. Technically, all journos have to go through Juba (the sole destination for the permit everyone’s trying to avoid getting).

Maybe you can get gear by an agent, maybe you can’t. At Bor airfield, I never saw anyone at all except UN. They could care less what you’re doing.

They’re on the verge of civil war again, and the government doesn’t want anyone watching.

Two years ago, I got stopped leaving the airport in Juba for Addis. Dude opened my bag and saw a bunch of cameras. Walked over to a million year old laptop on a dialup modem and, seriously, Googled me. After 10 minutes of holding up the line and pretending not to speak any language the inspector did, he shoved my shit back in my hands and sent me on my way.

To be sure, Juba is the problem. But it seems ever more that the Juba mindset is creeping out into the tribal areas as the government tightens its grip in the face of cattle raids, Chinese/Sudanese interference and general, good ol’ fashioned General-Turned-Politician hegemony.

Regardless of permits/visas/documents, I advise staying as far the hell away from anyone tied to the government as possible. The paper doesn’t make the rules. The government doesn’t make the rules. The dude with the gun dictates the rules.

Syria presently has more access than S.Sudan.

by Will Seberger | 17 Jun 2013 20:06 | Tucson, Arizona, United States | | Report spam→

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Will Seberger, Photojournalist Will Seberger
(Freelance Visual Journalist)
Tucson, Arizona , United States ( TUS )
Eliza Deacon, Photographer Eliza Deacon
(Africa, Travel & Documentary )
Arusha , Tanzania
Christena Dowsett, Photojournalist Christena Dowsett
Nairobi , Kenya
Nicky Olckers, Photojournalist Nicky Olckers
Johannesburg , South Africa ( JNB )
Cengiz, Cengiz
(freelance photojournalist)
Chicago , United States
Joe Sindorf, video journalist Joe Sindorf
video journalist
(reporting stories that matter)
Addis Ababa , Ethiopia


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