News / Africa

Satellite Spots Large Build-Up of Northern Sudanese Forces

Armed men walk past on April 17, 2011 as resentment towards the capital Khartoum runs high in the restive town of Abyei, on the Sudanese north-south border.
Armed men walk past on April 17, 2011 as resentment towards the capital Khartoum runs high in the restive town of Abyei, on the Sudanese north-south border.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Another satellite image of Sudan’s Abyei region shows an even bigger build-up of northern Sudanese forces than first thought.

The new image follows the release Wednesday of images showing the effects of fighting May 20 and 21. They showed Sudan Armed Forces positioned around Abyei, including warplanes on the ground in El Obeid, some 435 kilometers away.

New image

“[It] shows approximately a battalion size force of tanks, infantry - several platoons - and 13 artillery pieces with fighting vehicles assembled at the El Obeid barracks about 270 miles north of Abyei ,” said Nathaniel Raymond, director of operations at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative for the Satellite Sentinel Project.

Thursday’s images initially showed warplanes on the tarmac at El Obeid, but a further analysis revealed new details.

“Our team has identified this massing of troops, which to be clear, appears ready and capable of deploying to points south,” he said. He estimated that under good driving conditions those forces could reach Abyei in 10 or more hours. Currently, there’s no indication they’re on the move.

Northern forces are now in control of Abyei following fighting earlier this month. South Sudan President Salva Kiir has said he won’t return to war with the north over Abyei, and added that this was a time for peace. A more than 20 year civil war ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

While the south will become an independent nation in July, the issue of oil-rich Abyei remains unsettled. A planned referendum on Abyei itself was never held.

Raymond said, “At this point we are continuing to identify forces on both sides of the border. And also, we’re paying very close attention to the extremely disturbing reports of thousands of internally displaced people fleeing their homes in Abyei and the border region.”

While a satellite image is yet to confirm that, the medical aid group, Doctors Without Borders, is reporting a steady flow of people from Abyei to Agok further south.

“I want to be very clear that we are working every day and are going to try to release imagery every day going forward to update responders on the ground and people around the world about what is happening,” he said.

It can take 12 hours or more to analyze a satellite image before releasing it to the public. Weather conditions could affect images. “There is a lack of verifiable information inside Abyei because of security restrictions,” he said.

Why Abyei?

“Abyei is being contextualized in terms of being an oil rich or water rich region. Abyei’s significance is much bigger than that.” he said, “Reports of alleged ethnic cleansing and the movement of nomadic Misseriya people into that area in the past few days are deeply disturbing,” said Raymond.

Raymond added, “Violence in Abyei could mean a return of violence for Sudan.”

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs