AAAS analysis of high-resolution satellite images has corroborated accounts of widespread destruction across seven villages in the Negeha region of South Darfur since late 2005.
The analysis, encompassing 96 square kilometers centered around Negeha, revealed 265 structures that had been damaged or destroyed between December 2005 and January 2010. Another 554 structures were damaged or destroyed between January and December 2010, AAAS found.
ReliefWeb, a humanitarian organization, had reported that the villages of Negeha and Jaghara were burned in December 2010, resulting in more than 7000 internally displaced persons. AAAS sought to confirm ReliefWeb’s account by comparing an image snapped 31 December 2005 with additional images captured 13 January and 24 December 2010. (The three images were captured by DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird satellite, GeoEye’s GeoEye-1 satellite, and DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 satellite, respectively.)
“Destroyed structures were identified by their fuzzy, undefined outlines, their dark appearance due to charring from fire, and their lack of shadows,” the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program reported. “An intact house tends to cast a darkened shadow along the wall opposite the sun. A burned structure will often have had its roof collapse and its walls crumble, meaning it will no longer cast a significant shadow. Fires may also leave the ground appearing blackened and charred from the scattering of ash.”
Although many changes to structures seemed to be the result of attacks, AAAS noted that “other changes may be attributed to rebuilding, families relocating, and other non-conflict related factors.”
The work was completed by Susan Wolfinbarger, senior program associate for the AAAS Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project, in cooperation with the human rights group Amnesty International USA as follow-up to the Eyes on Darfur project. With objective technical support from AAAS, Amnesty International USA has been monitoring threatened settlements in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan since June 2007. Although the Sudanese government signed a peace agreement with a primary rebel group in May 2006, violence in Darfur has continued.
See the full AAAS analysis on the destruction of housing structures in Negeha, South Darfur.