The other day I was saddened to read of the death of Christopher Allen, a US journalist, killed in conflict in Sudan. And I must admit, it’s a conflict I had no idea of, until reading of Christopher’s death, as he was caught up covering battle there.
In the context of Christopher’s sad death, I’ve read up on that situation –
South Sudan’s civil war erupted in December 2013 just two years after it obtained independence from Sudan, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.
Thousands of people have been killed by the violence, which plunged part of the country into famine earlier this year. Some four million have been displaced, according to UN figures.
I never met Chris in person, but he did contact me back in 2014 –
I sometimes saw Chris’ work on the Ukraine war in the time after that. I do have generally mixed views on his work, given that it was almost entirely for the western media, pro-Ukraine, anti-Russian media. Here, Vice, for example. His work did follow the pattern of ‘Russia-backed separatists’, etc. However, being in western media, it couldn’t be any other way – editors wouldn’t let it be any other way, and there were signs that Chris was trying to go against the grain.
In his article this year from the Toronto Star, some signs of a journalist trying to, within the confines of the anti-Russia, anti-Donbass republics remit, some signs of a journalist trying to break some truth through, about the problems in Ukraine.
Chris’ sad death, at only 25, puts his work, and life, into a new focus. He literally went to one of the most dangerous place in the world for a journalist. And he would have known that. His death shows just how fierce the fighting is there, and sheds light on a situation which has seen over a million flee their homes, mass death, and the threat of humanitarian crisis for civilians.
Chris gave his life for his work, reportedly killed for photographing the battle. In his death, he shows us the true purpose of a journalist – to cover untold stories.
Chris, we never met in life, but in death, you have my full respect. RIP.