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The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, released two new reports, documenting the latest developments in the conflict raging on the border between Sudan and South Sudan.
JUBA, South Sudan -- Except for a few early risers, Yida refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan was sleeping when an unlikely assortment of people headed north to the border with Sudan and over into the embattled Nuba Mountains. In the front seat of the ragged Land Cruiser sat Not On Our Watch board members George Clooney and John Prendergast, and a handful of human rights researchers.
Today, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos travels to the capital of Upper Nile state whereover 42,000 peoplehave been displaced by violence. Satellite images of Malakal from January 27 show at least 210 tukuls burned to the ground in one of the city's quarters. In another part of town, images collected over the course of the past two weeks confirm the looting of a World Food Program, or WFP, compound and the damage and destruction of adjacent areas. Since thelaws of warmandate both respecting and protecting "humanitarian relief personnel" and "objects" used for their operations, these satellite images offer independent evidence of war crimes.
As South Sudanese combatants signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in Addis Ababa on Thursday, January 23, new images from the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, confirmed the systematic and intentional destruction of civilian homes in the town of Bentiu and across other parts of Unity state. DigitalGlobe images of Bentiu, Mayom, and Khor Bwow and small villages along the road between Bentiy and Mayom all document widespread destruction.
Note: This piece, written by Hayes Brown, originally appeared on ThinkProgress.
Since the clashes between the South Sudanese government and rebel forces broke out in late December, the toll on the civilians caught in the crossfire has escalated more rapidly than many could have predicted. Reporting from on the ground can be difficult to come by at times in situations such as seen in the areas where fighting has been the most intense, the states of Jonglei and Unity. TheSatelliteSentinel Project— a collaborative effort between the Enough Project and digital-globe with the backing of actor George Clooney — is attempting to break through the fog of war through tracking conflict from above the clouds.
For the past month, South Sudan has been engulfed in an expanding civil war. Unlike Sudan, where the Satellite Sentinel Project pioneered its work, with a few limited exceptions, South Sudan’s government has been allowing both journalists and humanitarians to operate around the country, even as violence spreads. As a result, harrowing videos, interviews, and photographs documenting the crisis have been emerging for weeks.
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations convened to hear testimony from panel experts and discuss the role of the United States in the, “Situation in South Sudan.” Panel experts included the Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, the Honorable Nancy Lindborg, the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, the Honorable Princeton Lyman, former Special Envoy for Sudan, Mr. John Prendergast, Not On Our Watch board member, and the Honorable Kate Almquist Knopf, Adjunct Faculty at the National Defense University.