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“I had to run”

Esther Muwombi
Hannington Ochan, freelance journalist and filmmaker, fled his home in South Sudan’s Yei after receiving death threats by officials who were irked by his investigative reporting.
28.11.2016  |  Nairobi, Kenya
Ochan Hannington at work.  (photo: The Niles | Dominik Lehnert)
Ochan Hannington at work. (photo: The Niles | Dominik Lehnert)

“Shortly before leaving I received a call from one of my tormentors. In the afternoon a friend had warned me that there was a bloody plan to finish me off. Then, I had a phone call from a security of officer and I decided I had to run.

I knew they would follow me on the direct route to the Ugandan border so instead I decided to travel across the Democratic Republic of Congo and find another route to Uganda.

My article about alleged corruption in the South Sudan Methodist Church was the cause for the death threats. One of my sources, quoted in the article, accused the local head of the Methodist Church of mismanaging funds and diverting cash for his personal use.

I still believe that the religious leader was among those who hired would-be assailants to kill me. Now, I am in Uganda and I don’t expect to return home anytime soon. Kampala is a struggle. It is costly to rent a house and cover bills for water, power and food.

I miss my home, where I had my own house, garden and family nearby. But I do not miss fearing for my life, constantly avoiding risk and, for example, not standing by the window of my home at night in case someone is watching. I want to return home – but not until the threats have stopped.”

This article is part of:
Migration: The children of the land scatter...
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