Chris' Story

I was imprisoned in South Sudan last year, I was detained, not sentenced, and the risks were high. Where we were being held was a key asset during the civil war, and rebels were attacking the building. I could hear the tanks, the RPGs, the AK47’s, the 50mm machine guns – the battles were going on outside and you could hear them firing from on top of the roof; that was a particularly stressful period.

There was no protection from mosquitos. I had malaria, gout, diarrhoea; one day I wasn’t able to move because standing up was just too painful. Running water was only on for an hour a day, it was almost unbearable.

I remember one evening in particular, a few of us were sitting outside the cells with some of the officers, all of them on duty, and one of them had been drinking quite heavily. In an instant he had got up, unlocked and loaded his AK47 and was threatening to shoot one of us. We sat there, there was no way out – we couldn’t run as this would have given him reason to shoot us – it was difficult, dealing with these things day in day out. You live with so much uncertainty; you don’t know how long you’re going to be there for, and you hardly get any information. If I did get an update on my situation and on my potential release, it was often third hand, and often changed – you were never sure what was going on – those months were terrible.

When I found out that Prisoners Abroad were involved, that they were supporting my family, gave me a great sense of relief. Being miles away and having such limited contact from everyone I loved was so hard, but knowing that there were professional people back in the UK, able to help my family and guide them in the right direction meant so much to me. Knowing that they knew I was there and that they knew how to handle the situation was very reassuring. Otherwise you could feel quite alone. Prisoners Abroad not only give practical advice but they give emotional support too – they could be there for my family when I couldn’t.

Read Chris' sister Margaret's Story