News / Africa

Monitors: North Sudan's Occupation of Abyei Was Planned

Burning huts in Abyei after northern Sudan forces seized the disputed oil-rich region.
Burning huts in Abyei after northern Sudan forces seized the disputed oil-rich region.


  • Joe De Capua interview with Nathaniel Raymond of Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

An international monitoring group says north Sudan's occupation of the contested Abyei region was likely a "premeditated and well-planned" operation.

The Satellite Sentinel Project, which uses satellite photos to observe developments in Sudan, says it documented a build-up of tanks, helicopters, and troops along roads near Abyei in the weeks before Saturday's occupation.

Nathaniel Raymond is director of operations at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative for the satellite Sentinel Project. To hear his interview with VOA's Joe De Capua on the latest images over Abyei, click below.

The project also says it has collected documentary evidence of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Abyei.

Witnesses have reported burning and looting of buildings in Abyei since northern forces seized the oil-rich area, which is claimed by both north Sudan and the soon-to-be-independent south.

The United Nations says more than 15,000 people have fled southward to escape the violence.

In a speech Tuesday, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir said the north will not withdraw from Abyei, which he described as "northern Sudanese land".

The fighting in Abyei has raised fears of a new civil war in Sudan.  The north and south fought for 21 years before signing a peace agreement in 2005.  

South Sudan voted to split from the north in a January referendum.

Southern leaders say the north occupied Abyei to provoke war and derail secession.  The north says it acted to prevent the south from annexing Abyei by force.  

North Sudan blames the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army for an attack on northern troops in Abyei last week that killed at least 22 soldiers. The Bashir government says dozens more are missing.

The north and south had been conducting joint patrols of Abyei while trying to negotiate the region's future.  

A planned referendum on whether Abyei should join the north or south was cancelled because the sides could not agree on who would be eligible to vote.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.

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 Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

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 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 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 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 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.

VOA Blogs