George Clooney, the Hollywood actor and Sudan activist, claimed that “war crimes” including ethnic cleansing have been committed in Abyei after northern Sudanese soldiers invaded and occupied the disputed town last weekend.
The accusation came as the watchdog initiative he co-founded with John Prendergast of the Enough Project released new satellite images showing around a third of the civilian buildings in Abyei burned to the ground.
The images from the Satellite Sentinel Project also showed northern army tanks and artillery in Abyei, evidence of widespread looting, including of a World Food Programme warehouse, and the destruction of the main bridge linking Abyei with the south.
"We focused satellites on Abyei because everyone concerned believed that if the Sudan government would try to undermine the North-South peace, it would do so through Abyei,” Clooney said in a statement.
“We now have undeniable proof of the Khartoum regime's war crimes in Abyei,” he said.
“We've captured visual evidence of the Sudan Armed Forces ransacking and razing Abyei town. This was a plan to disrupt the South's peaceful independence that everyone knew was coming, and that moment has arrived,” he said.
Clooney called on the UN to act. “Now that the photographic evidence exists, what is the UN Security Council going to do? With nearly a hundred thousand displaced, when does the UN actually have a responsibility to protect?” he asked.