Satellite Images Document Destruction in Wake of Abyei Invasion

WASHINGTON -- The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has documented evidence of attacks by armored vehicles and the destruction of villages in Sudan's disputed border region of Abyei following the reported bombardment and occupation of the area by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on May 20-21. The SSP report, “Abyei Invasion: Evidence of SAF Incursion into the Abyei Region” captures the razing of structures north of Abyei town, including the destruction of a southern-aligned base at Todach; the potential abandonment of a southern base at Tajalei; and fires burning in the town of Dungop and another point near Abyei town. SSP also documents the apparent absence of previously documented forces at a northern-aligned militia base at Goli. This imagery is consistent with reports that northern-aligned forces have razed buildings in Abyei.

"This latest attack by the Khartoum regime demonstrates that the lack of consequences for such offensive actions will ensure that they continue," said Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast. "The escalation of aerial attacks in Darfur, the intensification of coordinated attacks by Khartoum-supported militias, and the military occupation of Abyei require a much stronger response from the international community."

In addition, the DigitalGlobe imagery analyzed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and UNITAR/UNOSAT for the Satellite Sentinel Project captures military aircraft, including Nanchang Q-5 ground attack planes and Antonov transports -- which the SAF use as bombers -- at SAF's El Obeid airbase, within striking distance of Abyei.

The SAF military aircraft at El Obeid, 440 kilometers from Abyei town, can reach targets there in approximately an hour or less. "The presence of these attack-capable planes in close proximity to Abyei is consistent with reports of SAF bombing attacks in Abyei within the past five days," notes SSP.

“Consistent with U.N. reports of indiscriminate bombardment, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, followed by organized looting and burning in Abyei, these images provide supporting documentary evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Abyei,” said Enough Project Executive Director John C. Bradshaw. “It is imperative that the international community not reward these crimes by allowing the Government of Sudan to improve its bargaining position at the negotiating table.”

"The ongoing attack is wholly consistent with the strengthening of SAF capabilities in the area reported over the past four months by the Satellite Sentinel Project," said Harvard Carr Center Executive Director Charlie Clements, MD. "SSP's documentation and warnings about the build-up of tanks, helicopters, infrastructure improvements, troop strength and deployment of forces along main roads within striking range of Abyei indicate that the invasion of Abyei was premeditated and well-planned."

Links to Report, Fact Sheet and DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery
Read the latest SSP report, "Abyei Invasion: Evidence of SAF Incursion into Abyei," along with the SSP Fact Sheet, "Sudan Armed Forces' Invasion of Abyei," summarizing previous SSP evidence warning of a potential SAF invasion of Abyei:

View or download DigitalGlobe satellite images from SSP's latest report, “Abyei Invasion”:


About the Satellite Sentinel Project
The Satellite Sentinel Project,, combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google’s Map Maker to deter the resumption of full-scale civil war between North and South Sudan. Not On Our Watch provided seed money to launch SSP. The Enough Project contributes field reports and policy analysis, and, together with Not On Our Watch and our Sudan Now partners, pressures policymakers by urging the public to act. UNOSAT analyzes satellite images and collaborates with Google and Trellon to design the web platform. Harvard Humanitarian Initiative provides research and leads the collection, human rights analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports that contextualizes the imagery. DigitalGlobe provides satellite imagery and additional analysis.