photo by jon nicholson

feature story - ‘Crime Against Humanity’: Satellite Sentinel Project Documents Sudan’s Burning of 26 Nuban Villages Across 54 Square Miles

may 15th, 2013


WASHINGTON -- The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has released new DigitalGlobe imagery confirming reports that in November the government of Sudan engaged in scorched-earth warfare in the war-torn Sudanese border state of South Kordofan. SSP can confirm that a total of at least 26 Nuban villages were systematically destroyed,as well as food crops and grasslands for cattle grazing, across approximately 54 square miles (140 square kilometers) in three civilian-populated areas.

Not On Our Watch board member George Clooney, a Co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, stated:

"Razing a village is a war crime, and the torching of now at least 26 Nuban villages, plus the systematic destruction of crops and grasslands for cattle, is a crime against humanity. What we’re seeing here is a widespread campaign of village and crop burning. We’ve seen this in Darfur, and it’s happening again in South Korfofan and Blue Nile. The international community must act more robustly to counter and create a consequence for these crimes.”

Last week, SSP documented the deliberate burning of civilian infrastructure in 13 villages in a 31 square mile area near Al Abassiya, South Kordofan. DigitalGlobe’s team of geospatial analysts found that the latest before-and-after imagery reveals 13 more burned villages near Dilling and Kadugli, South Kordofan, and the destruction of approximately 23 additional square miles (60 square kilometers) of crops and grasslands. This visual evidence corroborates eyewitness reports, documented by SSP, that the government of Sudan has deployed joint units comprised of Popular Defense Force, or PDF militia, along with Sudan Armed Forces and Central Reserve Police, to burn and loot villages in order to displace tens of thousands more Nuba people who are believed to sympathize with an anti-government political party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North.

Not On Our Watch board member John Prendergast, a Co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, stated:

“These burned villages and farmlands shown in satellite imagery and confirmed by eyewitnesses on the ground present evidence of the government of Sudan’s strategy of arson and starvation warfare against the people of the Nuba Mountains. This is the way the Sudan government fights its wars, using scorched-earth tactics to decimate the civilian support base of Sudan's many rebellions. The United Nations Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council can play an important role in ending these abuses by creating sufficient pressure on Khartoum to stop bombing and burning civilian targets and ending its humanitarian blockade by allowing delivery of aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.”

Imagery in the latest SSP report shows scorched earth and examples of burned huts in three villages and their surrounding areas near Dilling and Kadugli, South Kordofan, Sudan. Additionally, on November 27,DigitalGlobesatellites captured real-time evidence of the destruction in imagery showing active fires in an unnamed village south of Kadugli, South Kordofan, Sudan.

Read the Satellite Sentinel Project situation report, “Scorched Earth Near Dilling, South Kordofan, Sudan”:

Read SSP’s previous situation report, “Scorched Earth Nea Al Abassiya, South Kordofan, Sudan”:

View or download the DigitalGlobe satellite imagery on Flickr:


About the Satellite Sentinel Project

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) a partnership between the Enough Project and DigitalGlobe, conducts monitoring of the border between Sudan and South Sudan to assess the human security situation, identify potential threats to civilians, and detect, deter and document war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Enough Project provides field research, policy context, and communications strategy. DigitalGlobe provides imagery from its constellation of satellites and geospatial analysis from the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center. SSP is funded primarily by Not On Our Watch.

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