from Africa in Transition

New Evidence of Conflict in Sudan

March 8, 2011

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Sudan

Wars and Conflict

A destroyed and deserted home is seen in Abyei town in this picture released by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on July 4, 2008. (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters)

New satellite imagery supplied by non-governmental organizations suggests an upsurge of violence in Sudan and provides visually compelling evidence of the heightened conflict. Recent media reports indicate that last week at least one hundred people died and another twenty-five thousand were displaced in Abyei, the highly contested oil state that has become a focal point of conflict. However, new images released in a March 8 report from the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) add important evidence: they depict targeted, systematic attacks on civilian dwellings. The SSP used a longitudinal approach and captured images that suggest the “deliberate burning of buildings” in multiple towns between February and March of this year. While others have recently commented on the images, the SSP and its partners seem to have overcome one of the shortcomings of UNOSAT’s earlier efforts in Kenya, a satellite mapping exercise that proved useful  but could not distinguish between arson and natural fires during the 2007-2008 post-election violence. The SSP report supplies important evidence of the worsening situation in Sudan, and it ought to raise increased concerns about the country’s short and long-term trajectory.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

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