photo by jon nicholson

feature story - Satellite Imagery Reveals Sudan, South Sudan Violations of Demilitarized Border Zone Agreements

may 20th, 2013

WASHINGTON -- New DigitalGlobe satellite imagery confirms that Sudan and South Sudan have violated recent agreements by positioning troops in what is supposed to be a 12-mile (20-kilometer) demilitarized buffer zone along their contested border. Continued satellite monitoring of military installations, near the border villages of Heglig and Kiir Adem, prove that both governments have violated their obligations under the March 2013 treaty in which they agreed to implement September 2012 peace agreements.

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

“The governments of Sudan and South Sudan are both in technical violation of their pledges to withdraw from the demilitarized buffer zone. The satellite imagery clearly demonstrates non-compliance in a number of areas. Without full implementation, the chances increase of incidents which can escalate the situation. Promising progress between the two countries is put at risk by continuing lack of implementation of these agreements. The United Nations joint verification mission apparently didn’t spot these violations. This visual evidence also suggests that other violations may have gone undetected and unverified due to the UN mission’s current lack of resources and force protection capacity.”

Imagery analyzed for the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) by DigitalGlobe’s Analytics Center, shows that Sudan and South Sudan have taken steps towards compliance by removing six main battle tanks each from the buffer zone between February 12 and April 4. However, imagery shows that Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, positioned weaponized pick-up trucks in one location and maintained two defensive installations within the buffer zone near the oil-producing area of Heglig. South Sudan maintained its own defensive position at the bridge in Kiir Adem, and appears to have established a new defensive position nearby. Both South Sudanese positions lie within the buffer zone in the contested 14 Mile area.

The report includes an overview map of the buffer zone, satellite imagery of two SAF garrisons and an infantry position in Heglig, and Sudan People’s Liberation Army, or SPLA, fortified encampments in Teshwin and Kiir Adem.

Read the Satellite Sentinel Project report, “Broken Agreement: Violations in the Demilitarized Border Zone by Sudan and South 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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