Darfur residents have suffered new, indiscriminate aerial bombardments by the Sudanese government on top of ground attacks by militias over the past two weeks, according to a report released Thursday.
The report, “Bombed & Burned,” was released by a coalition of groups including Digital Globe, the Enough Project, and the Satellite Sentinel Project, which was co-founded by actor George Clooney.
Satellite imagery by the groups provides independent confirmation of Sudan Air Force bombardments and ground attacks by janjaweed paramilitary forces the coalition said took place within the past two weeks.
“Indiscriminate aerial bombardments in densely populated areas like East Jebel Marra (in north Darfur) constitutes a war crime under international law,” the report said.
Images show at least 17 bomb craters across six villages in north Darfur, and ground attacks by janjaweed forces have exacerbated the impact of those bombings. A satellite image from March 21 shows more than 311 huts burned in six villages in the East Jebel Marra area.
The report showed comparison images of the same villages, with one satellite image recorded in February and one on March 21. From the photos below, it appears the more recent image shows damage.
“A newly reconstituted Janjaweed force backed by the Sudanese government ambushed and destroyed a camp for internally displaced people in south Darfur on March 22, burning to death a sheikh, abducting local leaders, destroying water sources, and torching homes and a hospital — displacing thousands, many into north Darfur,” the report said.
Humanitarian organizations estimate that 215,000 people are newly displaced across Darfur since the beginning of the year — with 146,000 displaced from northern Darfur areas alone.
People living in Darfur “have withstood years of indiscriminate aerial bombardments and a blockade on humanitarian aid. Janjaweed forces now further threaten the survival of the most vulnerable people in this area, many of whom have been displaced repeatedly and isolated from life-saving assistance,” according to the report.
Critics question the objectivity of the groups behind the report, as the Enough Project was co-founded by John Prendergast and Gayle Smith, who served as Africa aides to former President Bill Clinton.
“By branding the organization as anti-genocide, the Enough Project often gets a free pass from the mainstream media, which frequently cites its version of events in Sudan as objective independent analysis,” Foreign Policy reported.
“But the morally charged and culturally hip do-goodism helps disguise a clear political agenda: Even while it acknowledges South Sudan’s poor record on human rights and ‘transparency,’ Enough’s policy papers are filled with calls for punitive measures towards Khartoum and greater engagement with Juba.”
Khartoum is the capital of Sudan, and Juba is the capital of South Sudan.
FP reported that in 2011 Enough publicly advocated for arming Sudan with air defense weapons.
In the same press release, Enough's then-Executive Director John Bradshaw said:
"Rigorous vetting of South Sudanese units for human rights concerns should be a precondition for this support. Air defense systems, such as medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, should be closely monitored to ensure they are used for protection of civilian populations, and should exclude man-portable systems that could be used against civilians or be diverted to non-state actors ... Further support should be carefully conditioned upon progress toward the professionalization of South Sudan’s security forces and respect for human rights."