Satellites Corroborate Sudan Armed Forces Capacity to Bomb Refugee Camps in South Sudan

WASHINGTON – The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has released new imagery corroborating reports that the Government of Sudan has bombed two refugee camps in South Sudan. DigitalGlobe satellite imagery captured 14 November and analyzed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative for SSP reveals the Government of Sudan’s military aircraft at its El Obeid airbase in North Kordofan – including Antonov planes consistent with those eyewitnesses described as bombing the Guffa and Yida refugee camps across the border in South Sudan on 8 and 10 November.

According to SSP, the pair of Antonov AN-26 aircraft based at El Obeid are “well within operational range of the Guffa and Yida camps and are capable of performing such a mission.”

The satellite imagery also appears to show three ground attack fighters, including two Nanchang Q-5’s and a Sukhoi SU-25, as well as four Hind helicopter gunships.

Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast, who initiated the satellite watchdog project with George Clooney while they were on an October 2010 trip to Southern Sudan, stated:

“The build-up of offensive air power at this facility should sound alarm bells concerning the Government of Sudan’s intentions. The escalation of bombing campaigns in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur pushes Sudan further toward the brink of all-out war, and bombing runs across the border into South Sudan risk internationalizing the conflict. The UN Security Council should move beyond statements of concern and extend the existing ban on offensive military flights over Darfur to the other war zones inside Sudan, and plan for mechanisms of enforcement. Without more robust international involvement, conflict within Sudan will intensify, and the risk of a Sudan-South Sudan war will increase exponentially.”

Charlie Clements, MD, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a former U.S. Air Force combat veteran who served in Vietnam, stated:

“Even when indiscriminate bombing kills or wounds no one, communities are still terrorized and displaced due to fear. Crops are not planted or tended; markets shut down; and vulnerable people flee for their lives.”

Reports of the recent attack on Yida camp, which sheltered approximately 21,000 people, allege that an Antonov dropped four bombs on the camp on 10 November. Witnesses of the bombings included journalists from Reuters and BBC. The Reuters correspondent present in Yida camp at the time of the attack reported hearing a large explosion. He reported seeing a 2 meter/6.5 feet wide crater following the explosion, as well as unexploded ordnance visibly protruding from the side of a school. He saw a white aircraft flying north after the attack. The BBC correspondent also reported that he heard a large explosion just after a UN helicopter carrying food aid landed at the camp. He then witnessed a large plane heading north. Samaritan’s Purse, a faith-based aid organization operational at the camp, publicly reported that bombs hit a school, a marketplace, and the outskirts of the camp but did not do any significant damage or inflict casualties.

Sudan’s representative to the UN later denied that SAF had bombed these areas. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, responded by saying that Sudan’s ambassador to the UN “blatantly lied” to the Security Council and that the bombing is “irrefutable.”

Links to Report and DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery

Read the latest SSP report, “Launch Point: Corroboration of Reported SAF Air Attacks in South Sudan”:

View or download DigitalGlobe satellite imagery:


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. Google and Trellon collaborated 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.