Using satellite images to watch for troops buildup or unusual movements is a new way of preventing humanitarian abuses, reports Radio Free Europe. They are being used to help deter any violence related to southern Sudan’s referendum between January 9th and 15th, when people are voting for or against separation.
The referendum, as you may already know, comes on the heel of a two decade long civil war which finally ended in 2005. The referendum is about whether the southern region should remain a part of Sudan or become a new, independent country. Considering the recent civil war, and some of the humanitarian abuses that occurred during that time, it’s expected that the South will vote for separation.
If the people vote for separation, it’s uncertain what Sudan’s capital Khartoum’s reaction will be. So the satellite will watch for any unusual movements of troops and be ready to alert the UN and other forces if a humanitarian crisis is looming. As well, a map is being developed based on the pattern of burned villages, which may be an indicator of where Khartoum would start an attack.
The technology has been used before, in 2007 when Amnesty International’s “Eyes on Darfur” watched for and helped prevent further humanitarian abuses in the Darfur region of the Sudan.
If you want to get an idea of what a satellite view looks like, go to Google maps and click on satellite view. The visual map shows amazing details, which is similar to the view that will let the UN know what’s happening in the Sudan. The current Satellite Sentinel Project is a collaboration between Google, the United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and celebrity-backed NGOs, reports Radio Free Europe.