Report: Sudan, South Sudan keep troops near border
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Sudan and South Sudan are keeping troops in at least 14 locations within their contested border zone in violation of security agreements, according to a new report released Friday that is based on satellite imagery.
The actor George Clooney, a co-founder of the satellite project, said the imagery proves that both Sudan and South Sudan have troops "where they should not be."
The Satellite Sentinel Project said Friday that the satellite imagery contradicts a May U.N. report from a monitoring team that found that there was no military presence in several border locations.
South Sudan peacefully broke away from Sudan in 2011, but tensions between the countries, especially over their intertwined oil industries, remain high. Sudan this month said it was shutting down pipelines that export South Sudan's oil, the latest crisis between countries that frequently trade accusations of fuelling rebellion across the border.
In a joint statement Friday, the U.S., Britain and Norway said they were "deeply concerned at the recent heightened tension" between the two Sudans and urged both sides to show restraint.
"We call on both governments to comply fully with all of their September 27 agreements, including ceasing any support to rebel movements in each other's territories and withdrawing their forces fully from the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone," the statement said.
"The Government of Sudan's announcement that it intends to stop the flow of South Sudanese oil transported via Sudan's pipeline is in contravention of these agreements. We urge the Government of Sudan to reconsider its position and call on both governments to continue constructive dialogue on implementation of these agreements, especially on oil and security."
Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group fighting the Sudanese military. In turn, South Sudan accuses Sudan of backing rebels led by David Yau Yau, a former colonel in the South Sudanese military. Both countries deny any support for rebels, but an independent Swiss research firm called Small Arms Survey says it has found evidence to the contrary. Sudan has since threatened to suspend African Union-mediated security agreements signed with South Sudan in March.
Meanwhile, more than 23,500 people have fled South Sudan as its military fights Yau Yau's rebels inside Jonglei state, the country's largest, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders also said in a statement Friday that some 120,000 people have been internally displaced by fighting between government troops and rebels in Jonglei.
The group said in a statement that the displaced people are hiding in mosquito-infested swamps without access to drinking water, food, or medical care.
"The displaced population has fled the main towns in Pibor county most likely out of fear of being confused with rebels groups or being caught in the crossfire," the statement said.
It urged South Sudan's government to "allow immediate humanitarian assistance to these areas to prevent the deaths of thousands of internally displaced persons."
Instability in Jonglei is due in part to easy access to weapons, and a government disarmament campaign launched there last year ended up boosting insecurity as well as abuses against civilians, according to a U.N. report released last year.
Jonglei has a long history of inter-communal violence that is sparked often by cattle-raiding.
Associated Press writer Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this report.