Jun 28 2023

Tracking atrocities in Sudan: ‘The world has become significantly less anonymous for war criminals’

Category: Cyber War,Information Securitydisc7 @ 8:10 am

Since April, Sudan has been rocked by fighting between two factions of its army. At first, the violence was contained in the capital city, Khartoum, but in recent days fighting has flared up in western Darfur, ground zero for a genocide that started back in 2003 and left hundreds of thousands dead.

Arab militiamen, known as janjaweed, or “devils on horseback,” were able to kill so many in Darfur in such a short time because the area is so remote — there was no one to witness the atrocities or hold the perpetrators to account, so they continued apace.

That’s what makes this latest conflict so different: Technology is allowing third-party observers to document human rights abuses in near real time thanks to, among other things, low-orbit satellites.

Researchers like Nathaniel Raymond, the executive director of Yale’s Humanitarian Research Lab, have been using satellites not just to document the violence, but with the right on-the-ground intelligence, to predict attacks before they happen.

The team recently documented evidence of war crimes in Ukraine with a report that provided both photographic and other proof that Russia was behind the systematic relocation of thousands of children from Ukraine into Russia and Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine.

Now Raymond and the team are working with the U.S. State Department to document human rights abuses in Sudan. It is a bit of a homecoming for them — they pioneered the use of satellite analysis and open-source intelligence in Darfur more than a decade ago and now they are back with better tools and a focus on ending a crisis that is decades in the making.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Click Here: Let’s start at the beginning. Can you explain how you got into this work?


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