It is hard to overstate the scale of the humanitarian emergency unfolding in Sudans strife-torn Darfur region: by current estimates there are 1.45 million people displaced from their homes across an area the size of France. However, images from space are assisting aid workers as they cope with the crisis.
An ESA-supported consortium called Respond is supplying Earth Observation-derived maps and other geographical information products direct to users in the field including the German Red Cross (DRK), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and the German federal disaster relief agency Technisches Hilfswerk (THW).
The Respond team made use of ten different sensors from nine separate spacecraft, including instruments on ESAs Envisat satellite - the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) and the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), with imagery delivered in near-real time. "The start of Sudans rainy season in August made a bad situation worse," said Kader Fellah of Strasbourg-based firm SERTIT, which provides Responds rapid mapping capacity jointly with the Centre for Satellite-based Crisis Information (known in its German initials as ZKI) of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
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