News / Africa

Sudan Upgrades Military Airbases Along Southern Border

Map indicating increased range of Sudan Armed Forces aircraft, following capture of ac rebel airbase in Kurmuk, Blue Nile State. (Nov. 2011)
Map indicating increased range of Sudan Armed Forces aircraft, following capture of ac rebel airbase in Kurmuk, Blue Nile State. (Nov. 2011)
Joe DeCapua

New satellite images indicate that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are upgrading air bases recently captured from rebels. The Satellite Sentinel Project said the bases are located along the Blue Nile State border with South Sudan.

“The Sudan Armed Forces are lengthening and upgrading runways in Kurmuk and ad-Damazin,” said Nathaniel Raymond, head of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, which analyzes the satellite images. The images also show four additional helipads being constructed in Kurmuk.

“Why this is significant is that in the past 72 hours there have been credible reports of attacks by the Sudan Armed Forces across the border into South Sudan, including Upper Nile [State], hitting refugee camps; and the new facilities that they appear to be putting in ad-Damazin and Kurmuk would only increase the capacity to do those types of attacks,” he said.

Rapid build-up

The images show the airbase upgrades occurred quickly.

“In the case of the helipads in Kurmuk, approximately seven days,” he said.

There is also evidence the Kurmuk perimeter has been fortified and the presence of armored vehicles. Images also show “burning” at the end of the airstrip, but it’s unclear whether this means a further lengthening of the runway or just a result of wildfires.

“In the case of ad-Damazin, within approximately a month after the capture of that airstrip by the Sudan Armed Forces, they were in the process of lengthening the runway by 250 meters,” he said.

Satellite images throughout the year have shown a build-up of Sudan Armed Forces along the border with South Sudan. Sudan has been battling rebels in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. The Satellite Sentinel Project has accused Sudan of causing many civilian casualties in the process.

“The main conclusion that I think is important for the long term view of the situation between north and South Sudan is expressed by a simple graphic map we included in our recent report. What that map shows is a series of concentric circles radiating out from ad-Damazin and Kurmuk. These circles are the ranges of aircraft that we know have been used in the past for indiscriminate bombing campaigns by the SAF in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and Abyei. The point is that now they can use those same planes about a hundred miles deeper into South Sudanese territory,” he said.

A return to war?

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department condemned a Sudanese airstrike in Guffa in Upper Nile State that reportedly killed seven people at a refugee camp. It called the attack provocative and warned if could increase the chance of war between the north and south.

A second aerial attack was reported on Thursday around a refugee camp in Yida in South Sudan’s Unity State.

A long civil war between the north and south officially ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). South Sudan became an independent nation this past July.

“The past week and a half has, I think, firmly shown that it would be naive to not consider the potential for a return to war given the statements by both presidents. That said, however, from a Satellite Sentinel Project perspective, we are continuing to collect data. The limit of what we know now if that they’re enhancing their capacity to engage in more frequent, closer range air operations across the border,” said Raymond.

He said the United States and the rest of the international community must send a message to both sides to either stop attacks or show restraint and that they offer inducements for both sides to stand down.

“Because the situation could spiral out of control very quickly,” he said.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid