Satellite Sentinel News Roundup 7/7

Satellite Sentinel Project captures the attention of major media around the world, using satellite imagery and ground-based reporting to focus attention on and promote accountability for mass atrocities in Northern and Southern Sudan. Here is a round-up of recent, select media coverage of SSP.

SSP published two reports since July 1, 2011.  

ITN Channel 4 (UK) led its broadcast of July 2 with DigitalGlobe satellite imagery and an interview with Enough Project Director of Communications Jonathan Hutson, about SSP and the situation in South Kordofan. SSP had just revealed the presence of Sudan Armed Forces rocket launchers, which have a range of 20 kilometers and are capable of launching a hail of 40 rockets in a single volley, near the border of South Kordofan. (source)

Channel 4 News obtains the first video evidence of Sudanese forces attacking rebels in the Nuba mountains, as the country's president vows to 'cleanse' the region.

On Sunday, July 3, CNN newswire published “George Clooney's Sudan monitors warn about weaponry.” (source)

The government of Sudan may be moving heavy weaponry closer to a disputed oil-rich region of the country, a monitoring group started by Hollywood actor George Clooney claimed.

Satellite photos show what appear to be four vehicles capable of carrying multiple-rocket launchers at a camp that also appears to include two dozen light vehicles and tents for an infantry battalion, the Satellite Sentinel Project said.

"The deployment of such powerful weapons certainly gives added currency to President (Omar al-)Bashir's order on Friday to his army to 'clear' rebel elements from South Kordofan," said John Prendergast, a campaigner against violence in Sudan who works with Clooney.

On Tuesday, July 5, Hutson appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network's flagship news broadcast, Christian World Today. (source)


WAR IN SUDAN - CBN.com by cbnonline

On Wednesday, July 6, CNN newswire highlighted SSP's July 6 report on a major troop movement in South Kordofan, “Fears of more violence arise before South Sudan independence.” (source)

Independence for South Sudan is around the corner, but new satellite images released Wednesday reveal a heavy north Sudanese military presence in an oil-rich border region.

Images from the U.S.-based Satellite Sentinel Project showed an apparent Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) convoy of "significant size" traveling through the town of Kadugli.

The monitoring group, started by actor George Clooney, said the convoy was 2 kilometers in length and had about 1,000 troops. There were heavy transport trucks carrying artillery.

"Less than a week after signing yet another agreement, the Sudanese regime appears to be ignoring its commitment, holding to form, and positioning military assets for intensified offensive operations," said John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, which aims to end genocide and war crimes.

"This cycle will continue to be played out with increasingly destructive results for Sudanese civilians until the international community stiffens its spine and imposes swift and severe repercussions for the endless cycle of violence the Khartoum regime continues to fuel."

Reuters published a story on SSP’s July 6 report. The article, “Sudan seen massing troops in oil state, U.N. staff blocked,” was picked up by many influential news outlets, including the BBC, The Guardian, Yahoo! News, NPR, and the International Business Times. (source)

North Sudan has massed what looks like a large convoy of troops in its Southern Kordofan oil state, the site of clashes that have threatened the peaceful secession of the south, a satellite monitoring group said on Wednesday.

The U.S.-based Satellite Sentinel Project said it had identified "an apparent convoy of Sudan Armed Forces (northern army) vehicles and towed artillery, stretching over two kilometers and consistent with an infantry unit of at least regiment size -- equal to approximately 1,000 troops" in the state capital Kadugli, in pictures taken on Monday.

Two Foreign Policy blogs mentioned SSP on July 6: “The Cable” announced “The White House to send Susan Rice, Colin Powell, others to South Sudan’s independence celebration” (source). “Passport” posted, “Satellite shows military convoy near disputed Sudanese region,” quoting SSP’s press release, and added more information on South Kordofan. (source)

Southern Kordofan, which has some of the most productive oil fields in the country, is north of what will become the border between the two Sudans when the south formally declares independence on Saturday. Khartoum has been accused of targeting the Nuba people -- who live in the region and fought in large numbers with the South during Sudan's 22-year civil war -- in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. (Dan Morrison's FP piece from last month provides a lot of useful background on the conflict.)

The same day, a United Press International (UPI) special report focused on SSP: “Sudanese military deployments tracked from space.” (source)

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative's analysis of DigitalGlobe 4 July satellite imagery identified three Sudanese air force aircraft on the Sudanese the Kadugli airfield, including a Russian-made Antonov and two Hind helicopter gunships, the Satellite Sentinel Project reported Wednesday.

Nathaniel Raymond, director of operations at the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was interviewed by Voice of America. (source)

On July 4th, DigitalGlobe satellites captured approximately a regiment or more moving through Kadugli town. These are Sudan Armed Forces. They were towing artillery. They had multiple vehicles, including infantry transport and numbered at least a thousand troops or more.

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