Satellite Imagery Confirms Sudan Armed Forces Buildup at Border Hotspot

WASHINGTON -- Satellite imagery from March 5, 2013, analyzed for the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, by DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center, shows newly-arrived main battle tanks, 10 heavy transporters (HETS), and two Mi-24 helicopter gunships, in Heglig, an oil producing region in South Kordofan, Sudan, which South Sudan claims lies within its territory. Heglig was the scene of the last major military engagement between Sudan and South Sudan in April 2012. 

This recent increase in activity brings the total tanks in the greater Heglig area to 22, which is the equivalent of two tank companies. According to SSP’s monitoring of this hotspot, Sudan Armed Forces’, or SAF’s, total presence in the Heglig area, including the two tank companies, is now equivalent to two reinforced infantry battalions.

John Prendergast, a Co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, stated:

“Oil-rich Heglig is one of the hottest spots along a hotly contested border between Sudan and South Sudan,” said Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast. “By concentrating further offensive military capacity in a strategic location right near the border, early warning system alarm bells should be sounding around the world.  Any new fighting between these two countries would be catastrophic to the local population on both sides of the border.”

Though the government of Sudan neither confirms nor denies an increased military presence in Heglig, imagery dated March 5, 2013 shows newly-arrived tanks and HETS in a military support area in the town, as well as newly-arrived attack helicopters at the airbase. The report includes an overview map of the disposition of Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, in and around Heglig.

The imagery was taken prior to Sudan and South Sudan’s March 12, 2013 conclusion of implementation modalities for a set of cooperation agreements that the two countries signed in September 2012. The conclusion of the implementation modalities appears to have mitigated, in the immediate term, recent tensions along the north-south border and in the vicinity of Heglig.

About the Satellite Sentinel Project
The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, a partnership between the Enough Project and DigitalGlobe, conducts monitoring of the border between Sudan and South Sudan to assess the human security situation, identify potential threats to civilians, and detect, deter and document war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Enough Project provides field research, policy context, and communications strategy. DigitalGlobe provides imagery from its constellation of satellites and geospatial analysis from the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center. SSP is funded primarily by Not On Our Watch.

Read the Satellite Sentinel Project situation report, “Sudan Armed Forces Buildup in Heglig”: http://www.satsentinel.org/sites/default/files/Sudan%20Armed%20Forces%20Buildup%20in%20Heglig%20March%2015,%202013.pdf

View or download the DigitalGlobe satellite imagery on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/enoughproject/sets/72157632943076020/