WASHINGTON – A group founded by American actor George Clooney said Tuesday it has teamed up with Google, a U.N. agency and anti-genocide organizations to launch satellite surveillance of the border between north and south Sudan to try to prevent a new civil war after the south votes in a secession referendum next month.
Clooney's Not On Our Watch is funding the start-up phase Satellite Sentinel Project that will collect real-time satellite imagery and combine it with field analysis from the Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, organizers said.
The data will point out movements of troops, civilians and other signs of impending conflict. The U.N. Operational Satellite Applications Program and Google will then publish the findings online.
"We want to let potential perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes know that we're watching, the world is watching," Clooney said in a statement. "War criminals thrive in the dark. It's a lot harder to commit mass atrocities in the glare of the media spotlight."
The groups hope that early warnings will reduce the risk of violence.
Southern Sudan's looming Jan. 9 independence referendum has raised fears of renewed north-south civil war. The vote is the result of a 2005 peace deal that ended a 21-year conflict that claimed the lives of two million people and left twice as many displaced.