On the 26th of August 2017, Christopher Allen, the correspondent of The Maghreb and Orient Courier (CMO), found his death in South-Sudan.
Christopher, holding American and British double nationality, was embedded with the rebels who oppose the dictatorship of President Salva Kiir, in a forgotten conflict.
Our young colleague (26 years old) decided to shed light onto conflict zones abandoned by the mainstream media. After having covered, as a freelance journalist, the Ukrainian civil-war (there he was the correspondent for Al-Jazeera, The Telegraph, Vice News, The Independent), Christopher Allen joined the team of MOC-CMO, of which he became the special envoy to Turkey: he was present with civilian Kurds, who were attacked by the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Chris reported about the terrible reality on the ground in this other “forgotten conflict”: the destruction of seven Kurdish towns and the resistance of PKK fighters.
On the 2nd of August, Christ entered South-Sudan through the Ugandan border, to join a unit in action within the Sudanese rebellion. After three weeks of reporting he lost his life in combat, while covering the battle in the town of Kaya, between the government and the rebels.
When the fighting was over, as declared by the Commander of the government forces, the bodies of the victims were revealed. Three government soldiers were killed and sixteen members of the rebellion. It was at this moment, according to the spokesperson of the South-Sudanese Armed Forces, that the military discovered that a “white” man was lying among the rebel corpses.
Afterwards, the South-Sudanese army transported Chris’ body to Juba, the capital of South-Sudan, where he was identified by the American embassy.
According to the spokesperson of the rebels, Chris was targeted by the South-Sudanese Army and deliberately executed with a shot to the head while he was filming the combats.
The Information Minister of South-Sudan denied these accusations, asserting that there was nothing that could have made it possible to distinguish the journalist from the rebels. Therefore, he was intermingled and attacked just as the militias he was accompanying. The Minister, Michael Makuei, specified that “every person which is in the opposing camp is a target”; and “if Mr Allen was covering the rebel activities, then he was clearly a rebel himself”.
However, according to Colonel Paul Lam Gabriel, the spokesperson of the rebels, Chris was wearing a vest at the time with a big “PRESS” inscription on it.
The editorial board of The Maghreb and Orient Courier can confirm this information: Chris’ reporting of South-Sudan was prepared well in advance and it was a necessity for our correspondent to wear a clear sign, which identified himself as a non-combatant. This was an important issue for Chris himself, who got hold of the equipment that was adequate.
Maybe, if Chris’ camera would not have been destroyed, it could have provided the images, and an answer to the question asked by the team of MOC-CMO: was our correspondent executed by the South-Sudanese Armed Forces?