Jun 18, 2013

George Clooney's Satellite Sentinel Project Reveals War Crimes, Security Violations Using DigitalGlobe Imagery

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

(17/06/2013) DigitalGlobe satellite imagery released last week produced evidence that armed forces in Sudan and South Sudan continue to maintain troops in 14 locations in a so-called demilitarized zone, contrary to U.N. reports, and in violation of existing security agreements.

According to a report from the Enough Project and the Satellite Sentinel Project, civilians in Sudan and South Sudan continue to face violence and destruction despite a March agreement by both nations to completely withdraw their respective forces from the border zone by April 5. Satellite imagery taken in May and June of 2013 reveals that nearly two months later, both nations continue to violate their agreement by maintaining troops within their border zone.

Sudan, which borders Egypt to the north and Libya to the northwest, has seen escalating tension among the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), which includes the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North, as well as Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement who are fighting against the Sudan Armed Forces and the Khartoum-aligned Popular Defence Force, or PDF militia.

“Civilians in South Kordofan, Sudan, continue to bear the brunt of the recent escalation in hostilities,” the report states.

The Satellite Sentinel Project, designed to monitor peacekeeping violations, was formed in 2010 when American actor George Clooney visited Sudan along with the Enough Project Co-founder, John Prendergast. After viewing the conditions the people of Sudan were enduring and the lack of response from outside humanitarian organizations, they developed a plan to monitor “the warlords” using satellites.

“What if we could watch the warlords? Monitor them just like the paparazzi spies on Clooney?,” Prendergast asked in a written statement.

With the support of DigitalGlobe, the Satellite Sentinel Project began using satellite imagery to monitor the demilitarized zone. Within a year, the project documented violent attacks, large-scale displacement, and mass graves in Sudan.

“Our satellite imagery independently proves that in spite of their promises otherwise, both Sudan and South Sudan have troops where they should not be. By shining a spotlight on their violations, we hope that the two states will see that they have too much to lose to keep undermining these important agreements,” Clooney said in a written statement.

The imagery captures changes in areas otherwise inaccessible to U.N. observers, humanitarian groups and journalists, according to Jonathan Hutson, director of communications with the Enough Project. Without this project’s satellite imagery and analysis, “the world would not know the evidence of troop movements or war crimes,” he said.

DigitalGlobe made headlines of its own in February 2013, when it completed its merger with GeoEye, resulting in a total constellation of five satellites. According to DigitalGlobe’s website, the company globally collects more than 3 million square kilometers of imagery per day and supports a wide range of defense and intelligence clients, including several responsible for the monitoring, storage and development of weapons.

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Source Satellite Today