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Africa

Sudan satellites in place to spot referendum violence

media Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the Sudan's People Liberation Movement Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

A satellite project is being started in south Sudan on Wednesday. It aims to provide an early warning system for human rights and security violations during January’s southern independence referendum.

The Satellite Sentinal Project is supported by the United Nations, Harvard University, Google and an organisation co-founded by the actor George Clooney.

“The smallest detail that you’re going to see is about 50 cm across,” says Lars Bromley from the UN's Satellite Programme. “What we use it for is what we refer to as ‘non-interpersonal violence’. If they start attacking and destroying infrastructure, then that’s generally quite easy to see, as well as things like craters from shelling and bombing, and in some cases when victims are buried we can see the expansion in cemeteries.”

Clooney says it aims to let potential perpetrators of genocide and war crimes know that the world is watching.

Sudan goes to the polls on the 9 January in a vote that will decide whether to divide the country into north and south.

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