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Launching Sudan Shahid: documenting violence and its impact on civilians in Sudan

The Sudan Shahid map is a collaborative effort between the Centre for Information Resilience, C4ADS and the Sudan Human Rights Hub to monitor the violence in Sudan documented by our teams and partners.


This article details CIR’s effort to document, preserve and verify the incidents related to the surge in violence in Sudan. We also explain how to use the Sudan Shahid map to research what is happening in the country.


Sudan has seen a dramatic escalation in violence since April 15, 2023, when fighting erupted on the streets of the country’s capital, Khartoum.


The sudden surge of hostilities between warring factions has seen increased human rights incidents, especially in regional areas such as Sudan’s Darfur, which has already suffered from more than two decades of war including genocide and ethnic cleansing.


Open source verification, documentation and preservation is crucial at a time like this for Sudan. The information space is a battleground for narratives, with each side blaming the other while facts become obscured on the ground. In the middle of it all are civilians who suffer the greatest impact.


In April, our team at CIR began documenting the increase in violence in Sudan, namely Khartoum, and spreading out to Darfur. As of today, our database currently has more than 1000 preserved videos and images documenting the violence in the country.


Figure: A screenshot of the Sudan Shahid database where entries are preserved, documented and verified.


Now, just over three months later, our team, in collaboration with C4ADS and the Sudan Human Rights Hub, has launched the Sudan Shahid project with an interactive map to monitor ongoing violence in Sudan. Our verified data contributes to the information seen on the map.



Figure: A screenshot of the Sudan Shahid map showing data available for Khartoum.


The Sudan Shahid project also collects data about civilian casualties, sexual and gender-based violence, arrests and abductions, and damage to basic services including access to food, water and energy, medical facilities and pharmacies, telecommunications and internet access.


Each pin on the Sudan Shahid map represents an incident or event depicted through data contributed by partner organisations. The pins also display the media to link back to the original content (if available), a brief description, and the data source to see who provided the entry to the database, such as filtering CIR verified data on Sudan.


Our commitment to safety means that each entry includes a graphic content level to indicate where footage may be harmful to view. Each entry in our database has also been reviewed for privacy features, such as where people’s homes may be identified through geolocation and other privacy issues relevant to the content.



Figure: A screenshot of the Sudan Shahid map showing the details listed on a single pin.


With this map, users can navigate our data, and data from our partners that allows for easy filtering, sorting, and searching of specific incidents based on factors such as time, actors involved, and key words.


Alternatively, users can get a big-picture glimpse of the escalating violence in Sudan with a timelapse feature showing the emergence of pins on the map over a selected time period.



Figure: A screenshot of the Sudan Shahid map showing the category details on the left panel.


It is crucial that the global community keeps a close eye on developments within the country to prevent further human rights abuses by local actors, and cascading international consequences.


We built Sudan Shahid to raise the voices of those working tirelessly to protect human rights and restore peace in Sudan. Without their bravery, the world would be unaware of the full extent of the violence once again affecting the people of Sudan.


Case Study: Mapping the scale of violence in El Geneina, Darfur


One example of the use of the map is the social media footage and satellite imagery verification that provides visual proof to some of the events that have unfolded in Sudan’s Darfur region, specifically in the city of El Geneina (الجنينة) in West Darfur.


On June 8, our team verified footage of an RSF-allied militia fighter calling for ethnic violence.



Figure: Stills taken from video footage showing an RSF militia fighter calling for ethnic violence.


In multiple pins seen on the map, footage can be seen from June 14 and June 20 showing bodies on the city’s streets.





Figure: Stills taken from video footage showing bodies (obscured with white box) in El Geneina.


In a similar window of time large groups of villagers were seen fleeing west of El Geneina. While on the same day, further west of the city, an armed Janjaweed group were seen and heard reportedly racially abusing refugees fleeing to Chad.



Figure: Stills taken from video footage showing villagers fleeing west of El Geneina.


All of this instability in El Geneina follows a number of fires that our team has identified in El Geneina where parts of the city have been burned and destroyed.


Figure: Maxar satellite imagery showing smoke plume from fire in El Geneina on 17 May, 2023.


Just a few months in, the war in Sudan has reignited ethnic violence in Darfur and triggered refugee crises in neighbouring countries. It is crucial that the global community keep a close eye on developments within the country to prevent further human rights abuses by local actors, and cascading international consequences.


We built Sudan Shahid with our partners to raise the voices of those working tirelessly to protect human rights and restore peace in Sudan. Without their bravery, the world would be unaware of the full extent of the violence once again affecting the people of Sudan.


You can access the map at https://sudanshahid.org


If you have any questions on the project, do email us at hello@info-res.org

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