“Gateway to the North,” a new report issued today by the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, documents the bombardment and destruction of a village in the Nuba Mountains region of war-torn South Kordofan, Sudan and shows the recent fortification of a new infantry garrison for the Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF.
After a back-and-forth battle from August 23-26, the village of El Moreib now represents the northernmost front of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front’s armed rebellion against the government of Sudan. The village is located at a crossroads leading from South Kordofan into neighboring North Kordofan state, which, until the campaign of violence documented in this report, had seen no battles.
DigitalGlobe satellite imagery shows that 90 percent of a civilian residential area was destroyed by heavy artillery in the battle between the rebelling Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North, or SPLM-N, and the Sudanese army. A timeline included in the report shows that though the rebels were able to take control of the village and raise the Sudan Revolutionary Front flag on August 24, they were soon driven out when SAF brought in reinforcements.
“The Nuba Mountains are on fire. The government of Sudan is burning villages and killing and starving its own people in an attempt to crush the SPLA-N rebel movement,” said Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast. “The fact that the SPLA-N has pushed so far north is raising the alarm in Khartoum. As we have seen in other villages throughout the region, the government of Sudan is motivated to use heavy artillery on civilians in an attempt to stop the rebels.”
In the course of the battle, an additional 25 percent of the main village of El Moreib was also destroyed, forcing the displacement of approximately 3,000 civilians.
The systematic destruction of El Moreib, through razing and/or indiscriminate bombardment of civilian infrastructure, could constitute a crime against humanity and represents a gross violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.
SAF now controls El Moreib and has fortified a former police garrison by digging defensive positions and bringing in transport and cargo trucks, fuel tanker trucks, and probable “technicals”—Land Cruisers mounted with machine guns. The fortification of this new infantry garrison is all labeled in the satellite imagery included in the report.