Scroll to top

Sudans: Satellite Imagery Confirms Troops in Demilitarized Zone

No comments

Sudans: Satellite Imagery Confirms Troops in Demilitarized Zone

Posted by Enough Team on June 14, 2013

Satellite Sentinel Project and Enough Project Press Release

Contact: Jonathan Hutson, [email protected]

Sudans: Satellite Imagery Confirms Troops in Demilitarized Zone

WASHINGTON — New DigitalGlobe satellite imagery confirms that, in contradiction of U.N. reports, and in violation of security agreements, both Sudan and South Sudan maintain troops in at least 14 locations within their contested border zone. The two nations' agreements to create a safe, demilitarized border zone have recently been put in jeopardy by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's statements repudiating September 2012 cooperation agreements between the Sudans.

George Clooney, Co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, a partnership between the Enough Project and DigitalGlobe, said:

"Our satellite imagery independently proves that in spite of their promises otherwise, both Sudan and South Sudan have troops where they should not be. By shining a spotlight on their violations, we hope that the two states will see that they have too much to lose to keep undermining these important agreements."

On March 8, 2013, Sudan and South Sudan agreed to completely withdraw all military forces from the border zone by April 5. However, satellite imagery taken in May and June, and analyzed for SSP, by DigitalGlobe Analytics, reveals that almost two months after both nations should have withdrawn all of their troops, armed forces from both parties are present in multiple locations within the border zone.

On May 17, a report from the U.N. Secretary General noted that a joint monitoring team composed of U.N., Sudan, and South Sudan forces had “verified that there was no military presence” in several border locations, such as the South Sudanese towns of Kiir Adem, Teshwin, and Wunthou. The report also said that the joint team had provided “aerial verification” that SAF had withdrawn troops from border locations, such as the Sudanese towns of Radom and al Kwek, and the South Sudanese village of Kilo 4, and that “no armed forces were observed during those verifications either.” However, SSP's latest report confirms South Sudan and Sudan’s military presence in all six of those locations, as well as eight other locations, in contravention of their agreement to create a safe, demilitarized border zone. 

John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project and the Satellite Sentinel Project, stated:

"With bilateral issues such as Sudan's threat to shut off the oil pipeline deepening tensions, it is perilous for Sudan and South Sudan to persist with military deployments in contravention of their demilitarization agreement. The great risk of such transgressions is that any spark between the two states involving forces under their control in the border zone could start a raging fire of conflict."

May 23 imagery shows a reinforced infantry company of the Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, at Keri Kera and confirms that artillery howitzers and apparent tank tracks remain visible. Additionally, DigitalGlobe Analytics confirms that tents and structures located in the area are consistent with military presence. Previous analysis has confirmed that a SAF infantry unit supported by tanks and artillery has been present at Keri Kera for more than two years. Further documentation of violations in Sudan include imagery showing tents and foxholes consistent with military presence in the al Kwek area of Sudan’s White Nile state.

DigitalGlobe imagery taken on June 3 also reveals evidence of noncompliance by South Sudan. Satellite imagery released by SSP reveals elements of a Sudan People’s Liberation Army, or SPLA, reinforced infantry battalion and four tanks in Wunthou, five miles (7.5 km) south of the border. At least 200 tents and temporary structures are also visible. SSP also released DigitalGlobe imagery of what appears to be a prohibited, platoon-sized infantry unit near the border village of Emtidad, in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state.

Enough Project Sudan/South Sudan Analyst Akshaya Kumar stated:

“The Sudans have taken some steps toward setting up this demilitarized zone, but this satellite imagery proves that armed forces remain in at least 14 locations. The U.N took an important first step by authorizing more peacekeeping troops to help monitor this area. But for real stabilization to occur, Sudan and South Sudan need to commit to complete compliance.”

Read the report, “Troops in the Demilitarized Zone: Confirmation of Violations by Sudan and South Sudan”:

View or download the DigitalGlobe satellite imagery on Flickr: