Satellite Sentinel News Roundup 11/18

SSP released reports focused on the unfolding crisis in Sudan and South Sudan on Friday, November 11 and Tuesday, November 15. The subsequent media coverage spoke to SSP’s increasing stance in conflict prevention reporting.

On Friday, November 11, Reuters posted an article, “Sudan upgrading air bases in volatile border region” that was picked up by The Washington Post and featured on the front page of Google News. (source)

Sudan's military is repairing and improving air bases in its Blue Nile state, potentially helping it step up air strikes in the conflict-stricken region along the border with South Sudan, a satellite monitoring group said on Friday.

On Friday, November 11, CNN reported on SSP’s findings. (source)

Digital imagery, analyzed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, showed four new helicopter landing pads, three helicopter gunships and an Antonov, a plane often used in Sudanese bombing campaigns, on a newly improved airstrip in Blue Nile state's capital of Damazin.

On Friday, November 11, Al Jazeera English published “UN criticizes South Sudan bombing” featuring video from Yida refugee camp. The article stated that “The United Nations has said that an air raid allegedly carried out by Sudan on a refugee camp on South Sudan's territory could be an "international crime".” And cited SSP’s reporting of “Sudan's military is upgrading air bases near the border with South Sudan.” (source)

On Sunday, November 13,The New York Times cited SSP in an article, “Major Humanitarian Group Leaves a South Sudan Region” about Oxfam pulling out of the region over the weekend. (source)

A satellite-imaging program sponsored by the advocacy organization Enough Project has said it has evidence of a large buildup of Sudanese troops, as well as of the construction of new air-force bases near the border with South Sudan. A Sudanese government spokesman, Rabie A. Atti, defended the buildup on Sunday, saying, “We are only securing our border.”

On Tuesday, November 15, Voice of America interviewed Nathaniel Raymond, head of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. (source)

He said the presence of the Antonov aircraft is important in light of eye witness reports of the November 10 attack on the Yida refugee camp. A similar attack was reported two days earlier at the Guffa camp.

“They match the description of the planes that allegedly attacked the two refugee camps in southern Sudan last week. Additionally, these planes on the strip at El Obeid are in range operationally of those camps. They could have made that flight and they are capable of performing a mission such as a bombing run,” Raymond said.

On Tuesday, November 15, BBC’s The World Today interviewed SSP’s Caitlin Howarth who was at the Third International Conference of Crisis Mappers. (Listen Online)

“What we were looking at were a series of images taken over the last month of a couple of major air bases in what’s called the Blue Nile region. The Sudanese Armed Forces have taken very strong control over the area and they’re starting to escalate their ability to put more attack helicopters and fighers into the region. And potentially, that can project into South Sudan, so that’s something we’re very concerned over right now after the recent bombing attacks in Upper Nile…”