New DigitalGlobe imagery confirms military buildup and the destructive impact of a large- scale Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, offensive against the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front,or SRF, earlier this month. A new Satellite Sentinel Project report, “Situation Report: Expanding War in Sudan Threatens Civilians,” reveals a snapshot of the hostilities of the campaign, announced earlier this month by Sudanese Defense Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, promising to “stop until we crush them”.
An October 2013 Satellite Sentinel Project human security warning reported increased SAF activity, warning of the potential threat to civilians. Satellite imagery in the new report documents the clashes reported on November 17, 2013 in the strategically important West Kordofan town of Abu Zabad, and shows four craters consistent with aerial bombardment, two burning buildings, and several vehicles on fire.
George Clooney, Satellite Sentinel Project Co-founder observed:
"Last month, our satellites detected the first signs of this Sudanese government offensive. Now, with these latest shots, we have proof of its destructive impact. We're going to keep watching and reporting to keep the spotlight on as bombs drop from the sky and villages burn once again. "
Air strikes and ground clashes pose a direct detriment to civilian livelihoods, particularly in the critical harvest season, when many take to the open fields to reap crops. The eruption of conflict may have also closed the window for humanitarian aid, including the long-awaited polio vaccination campaign in rebel-held areas. The build-up of aerial assets across Sudan, particularly in El Obeid, Dilling and the surrounding towns, is alarming and efforts to put a halt to the conflicts erupting across Sudan must be addressed.
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project and the Enough Project said:
"We sounded the alarm and issued an urgent human security warning last month. Now our satellites have caught Sudanese forces massing, deploying, and engaging in active clashes on the ground. Erratic efforts to address conflict inflaming Sudan’s periphery have failed. We need a more comprehensive approach to ending Sudan’s wars."