Washington, D.c. — Fighting in Upper Nile state resumed over the weekend, heightening the devastating state of conflict in South Sudan, according to new satellite imagery released today by the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP. In the area surveyed by SSP imagery dated February 17, at least 535 residential structures are visibly damaged in oil-rich Upper Nile state’s capital city of Malakal. The recent fighting is a clear violation of a cessation of hostilities agreement signed by South Sudanese government and the opposition rebel forces on January 23.
John Prendergast, Satellite Sentinel Project Co-Founder, said:
"The cessation of hostilities agreement has effectively collapsed. The fighting in and around Malakal is of an order of magnitude that requires urgent international action. If the war explodes again and ethnic targeting continues, cycles of violence will gather a momentum of their own, and very soon will be very difficult to contain, much less reverse."
SSP has previously reported on escalating violence and potential war crimes in Malakal. The city borders key lucrative oil fields in Paloch. Civilians living in and around the town, including a diverse population of Shilluk, Nuer, Dinka, Bari and many others have been caught in the crossfire between government forces and rebel forces. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk as they flee the area seeking safety and shelter.
Akshaya Kumar, Enough Project Sudan and South Sudan Analyst, said:
"As both parties cynically continue to fight with little regard for civilian lives or their January pledge to put down their weapons, South Sudan’s embryonic peace process is in jeopardy. These satellite images show the scale of destruction in Malakal, which has already changed hands twice. Further fighting will only exacerbate divisions along ethnic lines and inter-communal mistrust."
Read the situation report, “Despite Truce, Satellites Confirm Malakal Under Attack Again”
View or download the satellite imagery: