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January 27, 2011

Satellite Sentinel Project Provides Images of Troop Presence in Sudan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 27, 2011
Contact: Jonathan Hutson, Enough Project+1-202-386-1618jhutson@enoughproject.org
Read the report, including the satellite imagery analysis (PDF)
View the satellite images

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed that the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, has deployed company-sized units of troops equipped with light armor and artillery in areas of South Kordofan around the oil-producing Abyei region and other strategic areas along Sudan's volatile North-South border. However, the project's first report also indicates that the SAF troops do not appear prepared for imminent forward movement. This provides a window for the peace process to address outstanding North-South issues which, if unresolved, could trigger renewed conflict.

Troop buildups have been reported on both sides of the border. Authoritative sources, such as the Small Arms Survey, indicate approximately 55,000 SAF troops along the border of South Kordofan - half the strength of Sudan's standing regular army - spread out over some 100 garrisons. The satellite imagery collected to date by SSP is consistent with those reports, and it provides photographic corroboration of company-size deployments, light armor, mobile artillery, and other offensive military equipment, as well as helicopter transport.

The imagery analysis, prepared by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, presents fresh and unprecedented high-resolution imagery of a potential conflict zone captured by DigitalGlobe, a leading commercial satellite firm, which is providing imagery and additional analysis. These images, combined with the Enough Project's field reports, provide a baseline understanding of what's happening in flashpoint areas, where the combination of large numbers of security forces and high levels of tension could cause localized incidents to escalate, drawing both sides into a wider conflict.

George Clooney, a co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, said:

"These first images and analysis have deepened our understanding of the evolving situation following Southern Sudan's historic vote on independence. Although the SAF in South Kordofan apparently remains a force largely in hiding, we showed they are field-deployed, and they are controlling major roads by running checkpoints. Though they are not showing signs of advancing, we confirmed that they're equipped with helicopter transport, artillery, armored personnel carriers and trucks. Our first report represents the best recent information on the military situation in Sudan publicly available."

The findings of this report include the following

  • The report documents checkpoints reported by the U.N. north of Abyei Town on the road to Diffra in the oil-producing northern part of Abyei's territory. The checkpoints are in the same region where busloads of southerners returning home from the North have been ambushed and held. Returnees have reported many cases of rape.

"Traditionally, the human rights community has documented abuses that have already occurred," said Dr. Charlie Clements, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "Satellite Sentinel Project represents a new opportunity for policy makers and the public to have access to the same types of information that could save lives if widely shared and acted upon."

To see the full report, the latest satellite images and for more information or ways to take action, visit www.satsentinel.org or www.digitalglobe.com.

Enough Project, 1225 Eye St. NW., Washington, DC 20005 United States
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