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New satellite imagery of the border area between Sudan and South Sudan shows that neither government has fulfilled international obligations to demilitarize their shared border. Despite public recommitments made by both presidents in early September 2013, Sudanese and South Sudanese forces retain military units within the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ), including areas that are still subject to border dispute. DigitalGlobe satellite imagery shows that Sudan has kept a military presence along the border at six locations with 14 occupied positions. Sudan appears to have made an effort to remove or relocate some units positioned inside the SDBZ, but only the unit at Radom appears to be vacated. South Sudanese forces dismantled and then reoccupied a highway defensive position at Teshwin and have reduced their presence at Al Abyad Lake, Kiir Adem, Al-Kwek and Joda. Still, South Sudan maintains a presence at 10 locations in the SDBZ with 22 units. Tanks, technicals (truck-mounted heavy machine guns) and tents are visible on both sides of the border in satellite imagery (Figure 1).
The human rights and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan’s largest state of Jonglei continues to worsen. The long history of rebellion and inter-ethnic clashes in Jonglei has evolved into three overlapping crises: major intercommunal attacks between Murle and Lou Nuer militias, which have led to thousands of deaths and displacements; anongoing destructive rebellion led by David Yau Yau; and major human rights abuses committed by South Sudan’s army against Murle civilians. The suffering of Jonglei’s civilian population is intensifying from the continuing violence and a lack of access to humanitarian assistance.
Since December 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced extreme instability and violence, resulting in the death of at least 2,000 people, roughly 643,000 internally displaced persons, and an additional 100,000 refugees to the more than 200,000 that were already living in neighboring countries. While existing African Union and French forces have attempted to contain the fighting, peacemakers must think beyond immediate responses to the crisis. The violence will not end unless economic and political drivers of the conflict are addressed.
This op-ed, authored by board member John Prendergast and Eric Reeves, originally appeared in The Daily Beast.
With Secretary of State John Kerry traveling to Ethiopia today, site of the peace talks for South Sudan, he will be greeted by a bracing reality: no civilians in the world are in greater danger than those of South Sudan. Not in Syria, Central African Republic, or Darfur is the threat of targeting on the basis of identity so immediate as it is for certain ethnic groups in vulnerable areas of South Sudan. Given the lack of protection by Juba government forces, the inability of UN troops to protect large numbers of people, and the absence of significantly greater protection from the broader international community, hundreds of thousands of people are likely to die in the coming months, whether directly through targeted violence or indirectly through hunger. It is an unsurpassably urgent crisis and yet the world's response has been in no way comparable to the threats civilians now face on a daily basis.
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) is issuing a human security alert for the civilian population of the Kauda Valley in the war-torn Nuba Mountains region of Sudan. Digital Globe Intelligence Solutions (DGIS) imagery has captured a significant mobilization of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) around Rashad, Delaba, and Umm Abdallah in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, Sudan. The SAF mobilization, which includes the movement of heavy weaponry into the area, appears to be preparation for an assault on Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) bases in the Kauda Valley. Most significantly, DGIS imagery from Delaba confirms the presence of a Chinese-manufactured WS-01 multiple rocket launcher battery,* a powerful and indiscriminate weapon within the SAF inventory, that is not normally deployed to low-level conflicts. In addition, sources on the ground have confirmed the presence of the reconstituted Janjaweed, known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF), west of Rashad, which routinely engages in thedestructionof entire civilian villages. The RSF include local militias that are backed by the Sudanese government to forcibly displace civilians and engage rebel forces. The combination of the WS-01 multiple rocket launcher and the RSF Janjaweed poses a grave threat to civilian populations in the Nuba Mountains region.
New Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) imagery of the strategic town of Kaka in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state confirms the burning of 1071 huts and tukuls and some limited damage to the central market. The 1071 structures were burned in Kaka between March 14 and April 2, 2014, when the new images were secured. The town, which lies on the road to South Sudan’s only productive oilfields in Paloch or Palouge, was attacked as recently as four to five days ago. South Sudanese armed opposition leader Riek Machar recently announced that his forces are seeking to control the Paloch oilfields, which currentlyproduce around 150,000 barrels a day, worth around $15 million dollars. An attack is likely imminent.
Confirming reports that first emerged from local sources and Radio Dabanga, new Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) imagery from March 26, 2014 shows more than 400 huts, tents, and temporary shelters burned by Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed forces in Khor Abeche, at a South Darfur camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) located near a peacekeeping base. DigitalGlobe Intelligence Solutions (DGIS) image analysis finds that most of the destruction affected the structures adjacent to the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeping compound, which itself was not damaged.