Actor/activist George Clooney has been telling the world about the dire situation in the Sudan for years. And now, as the citizens of the northeast African nation line up for a crucial week-long vote that could determine whether the resource-rich Southern region will gain independence from the rest of the country, Clooney wants to make sure the world is keeping an eye on things.
That's why MTV and mtvU have teamed up with Clooney and the Satellite Sentinel Project, as well as Not on Our Watch, the Enough Project, Google, the United Nations UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Trellon, LLC to ask young people to help try to prevent an outbreak of civil war in the country by sending the message that "the world is watching."
"Satellite Sentinel Project welcomes MTV and its viewers — who have been standing up for years to end human rights crimes in Darfur and Southern Sudan — to our early warning system team," said Clooney, the driving force behind the project. "Frankly, our team of policy wonks and super nerds could use an injection of MTV style."
Southern Sudan will begin the independence vote on Sunday (January 9), and experts have warned that the results could plunge the country back into civil war. Beginning on Friday (January 7), MTV and mtvU will promote the Satellite Sentinel Project across an array of on-air and online properties, encouraging young people to become peace monitors, inform their friends of the latest happenings in Sudan and be prepared to mobilize support should violence emerge. If you want to know more about how to get involved, check Sudan.mtvU.com for more calls to action.
Clooney further explained the importance of the project on the Sentinel website, writing, "A new state is being born in Southern Sudan against a backdrop of decades of war between the South and North of Sudan. A peace deal in 2005 ended the latest round of open conflict, but the possibility of a return to war remains high as Southern Sudan prepares for independence. One of the biggest risks in this dangerous moment is that an incident on the highly armed border could lead to wider conflict. The government in Khartoum has armed militias in contested bordering regions, the government air force has bombed border areas, and both sides have massed military units and equipment along the hottest border spots. These areas have witnessed some of the most deadly conflict in the world since World War II. The former director of national intelligence says that Southern Sudan is the place in the world most likely to experience genocide.
"We can't allow another deadly war, and we surely cannot stand by in the face of a genocide threat. ... With your support, we will swiftly call the world to witness and respond. We aim to provide an ever more effective early-warning system: better, faster visual evidence and on-the-ground reporting of human rights concerns to facilitate better, faster responses. This is why we have launched the Satellite Sentinel Project. There has never been a sustained effort to systematically monitor potential hot spots and threats to human security, in near real-time, with the aim of heading off humanitarian disaster and war crimes before they occur." The last civil war, in 1983, lasted 20 years and claimed more than two million lives.
The Sentinel project aims to create rapid response to any potential human rights concerns by combing satellite imagery analysis, field reports and crowd-sourced map data from Google Map Maker to prevent violence, and focuses world attention on Sudan. To become part of the open-source, early warning system for Sudan, young people can follow the Satellite Sentinel Project on Twitter @SudanSentinel. By doing this, they'll get the latest updates and action alerts, and be ready to help put pressure on public officials to respond, if necessary.
"We know the Millennial generation is fearless, and that they strongly believe in their power to affect change," said Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTV. "We're proud to act as a megaphone for the Satellite Sentinel Project's efforts, amplifying their message to young people so they can join forces with the world to help maintain peace in Sudan during this potentially volatile moment in history."