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Satellite photos show aggression along South Sudan's border

George Clooney's peacekeeping effort in Sudan, the Satellite Sentinel Project, will be making news later today by releasing satellite imagery that appears to show aggression along the volatile border between North and South Sudan.

The satellite project, funded by actor George Clooney and other Hollywood celebrities, takes aerial photos of the disputed border between North and South Sudan to monitor for any signs of armed aggression.

Clooney has visited Sudan several times and has become an effective spokesman for peace in the troubled country and independence for South Sudan. Clooney works closely with the anti-genocide group, Enough Project, which is based in Washington. DC.

Today the satellite project is preparing to release a new report on recent violence in the contested Abyei region along the border between North and South Sudan.

The satellite imagery shows increased military buildup on both sides of the North-South border, including apparent Sudan Armed Forces troops equipped with tanks and artillery within approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) of Abyei town, and the alleged buildup of forces in the South by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army near Lake Abiad since the autumn of 2010.

The images of the village of Maker Abior in the Abyei region were taken by DigitalGlobe on March 3, 2011 and analyzed for the Satellite Sentinel Project by DigitalGlobe, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the United Nations satellite imagery program, UNITAR/UNOSAT.

The images were shot in what is called false infrared in order to give more contrast to the burned structures.

Approximately 20 out of an apparent 24 civilian structures, consistent with traditional civilian dwellings known as tukuls, appear to be burned. The absence of scorched ground vegetation or trees indicates apparent arson and is consistent with reports stating that the village was burned on March 2 by armed Misseriya militia from the North.

“The intentional destruction of Maker Abior just prior to the resumption of high-level negotiations between North and South demands an unambiguous response from the United States,” says Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast. “Anyone found responsible for this dramatic deterioration should be held accountable and subject to swift consequences. The Obama administration should suspend implementation of any incentives package linked to the North-South effort, in particular removal of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Instead, the United States should intensify its peace efforts, and create a task force charged with developing a robust set of consequences for any Sudanese party that risks derailing progress toward peace.”