Author Archives: Sally Hayden

My Fourth Time, We Drowned – published March 2022

Early praise:

“The most important work of contemporary reporting I have ever read. Every citizen of the European Union has not only a right, but also a responsibility, to learn about the realities described in this book. I hope that Sally Hayden’s work can help to begin a radically new and overdue discussion about Europe’s approach to migration and borders” — Sally Rooney

“‘I had stumbled on a human rights disaster of epic proportions,’ writes Sally Hayden in the prologue of her remarkable story of the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe. Contacted blind, on the phone, by a desperate young man locked in a brutal refugee camp in Libya, Hayden embarked on a years-long effort to document the courage, humor, kindness, and resilience of ordinary people trapped by circumstance, and the tragic moral failure of the west to help them. The refugee who sent her the first Facebook message in 2018 had no way to know it, but he had reached exactly the right person. Read her book.” — Mark Bowden, author of ‘Black Hawk Down’

“This vivid chronicle of the lives and dreams of those who risk all the cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe may make you cry, but it should make you angry. It is not just a blistering rebuke to those who torture, rape and imprison, but to the rest of us, who turn a blind eye.” — Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News

“This is a brilliant book, powerful and emotional – Sally Hayden is a superb journalist and through her incredible courage and eyewitness testimonies, paints a compelling picture of the poignant and horrific lives endured by so many refugees and migrants. A must read for anyone with a conscience”. — Miriam O’Callaghan, presenter RTE Prime Time

“One of the most important testaments of this awful time in life’s history. It is both heartbreaking and stoic. I cry reading any page of it. Sally Hayden is a young and brilliant journalist.” — Edna O’Brien

“Kafka retold… Read this great book shedding light on a monstrous crime.” — John Sweeney, author of ‘Hunting Ghislaine’

“My Fourth Time, We Drowned is compassionate, brave, enraging, beautifully written and incredibly well researched. Hayden exposes the truth about years of grotesque abuse committed against some of the world’s most  vulnerable people in all of our names. After this, none of us can say we didn’t know.” — Oliver Bullough, author of ‘Moneyland’

“Sally Hayden’s heart-stopping account of the plight of contemporary refugees is both a compelling epic and an intimate encounter with exact personal experience. She achieves what all great writing hopes to do — the restoration of humanity to those who have been deprived of it. This is a vital book for anyone who wants to feel what it means to be human in the 21st century.” — Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times columnist and Orwell Prize winner

“Irish journalist Sally Hayden describes one of the great tragedies of our era, the story of the thousands of refugees bent on starting new lives in the West, who instead spend years rotting in Sudanese refugee camps, trapped in Libyan prisons, clinging to sinking dinghies in the Mediterranean. Her harrowing portrait captures the voices of the Eritreans, Somalis, Ethiopians, Gambians and Sierra Leoneans caught up in this pitiless modern slave trade, who constantly remind us that the desire to better yourself is the most fundamental of human impulses.  This is a remarkable and important book.” — Michela Wrong, author of ‘Do Not Disturb’

“‘My Fourth Time, We Drowned’ is a veritable masterclass in journalism. Unexpectedly finding herself a journalistic agony aunt for migrants being tortured, starved and raped inside horrific Libyan detention centres, Sally Hayden weaves together their WhatsApp and Facebook messages to produce the most riveting, detailed and damning account ever written on the deadliest of migration routes” — Christina Lamb, chief foreign correspondent Sunday Times

“‘My Fourth Time, We Drowned’ is, quite simply, an unexpected tour de force, and its author, Sally Hayden, deserves critical acclaim and a wide readership for her achievement. A book about African migrants to Europe becoming trapped in Libyan hellholes while fleeing repression and poverty at home does not, at first glance, make for a promising read. But Sally Hayden, a very gifted writer as much as she is an intrepid and dogged reporter, has done precisely that. I found this book unputdownable. I have no doubt that whatever else she goes on to write about in the future, Sally Hayden will leave some of her words etched into our hearts and our souls.” — Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer

Reviews:

“Intrepidly reported and vividly written, this sobering account shines a spotlight on an underreported tragedy.” — Publishers Weekly

“The narrative is consistently harrowing, revealing the complexities within a global crisis that lacks an easy solution, especially as the numbers of refugees mount. An important contribution to the literature of forced immigration and humanitarian crises.” —Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Journalism of the most urgent kind” — The Financial Times

“There is perhaps no better testament to the racist double standard at the core of European border policy than the accounts of refugees and migrants collected in a new book by journalist Sally Hayden”  — The Intercept

“A meticulous account of the horrifying North African refugee crisis . . . Painstaking details and a roundabout timeline make My Fourth Time, We Drowned informative, while the testimonies from the refugees themselves pulse with difficult truths that will shock (and maybe mobilize) conscientious citizens across the globe.’ — Foreword Reviews

“A brilliant, layered testament”  — The Irish Independent

“A powerfully written amalgamation of narrative nonfiction and investigative journalism, My Fourth Time We Drowned is compelling reading for a wide audience.”  — Mail & Guardian

“Hayden’s noteworthy book should be a wake-up call for international aid organizations and world leaders.” — Foreign Policy

“A brilliant, unparalleled investigation of one of the most underreported scandals and monstrous crimes of our time.” — Responsible Statecraft

“Reading Hayden’s book is like descending through the middle bolgias of the Inferno, except that Dante’s hell does not hide behind a gauzy screen of humanitarian concern…” — The Sunday Times

“One of the finest non-fiction books I have read in a long time.” — Matthew d’Ancona, Tortoise Media

“This is a book of evidence, an indictment of a guilty continent. It will make you feel sick, and it should.” — The Irish Times

“[A]stonishingly detailed… My Fourth Time, We Drowned is not simply a catalogue of misery: it is a meticulously documented record of the complicity of the very organizations that are meant to be forces of good.” — The Times Literary Supplement

“A quietly angry book, and it’s likely that on reading it you’ll experience a similar sense of fury: that people were bought and sold just a sea crossing away from where tourists frolic on European beaches.” — The Irish Examiner

“The evidence [presented] in My Fourth Time, We Drowned is overwhelming. The facts argue for a more urgent and humane migrant policy. — Washington Independent Review of Books

“Probably the most important and touching book I’ve read this year… It’s horrific and nobody comes out looking good, least of all us citizens of Europe, who have allowed terrible things to go on in our name.” — Five Books

“Readers should not flinch from [anger and embarrassment] but look it directly in the face, and let Hayden’s vital reporting make them reconsider their view of what makes a moral world.” — The Baffler

“An essential portrait of a crisis of unfathomable proportions, one that you can only hope will sway those in power to do something. Anything.” — Hippocampus magazine

Media:

’12 debut Irish writers to look out for in 2022′, the Irish Times; ‘Books to look out for in 2022’, the Irish Times; ‘The hottest books of 2022’, the Irish Independent.

Included on the Kirkus list of the 20 best books publishing in the US in March.

Chosen for the Washington Post’s Africa politics summer book club.

The New Humanitarian: Q&A: Why documenting Libya’s detention abuses is so important

Order:

Audiobook

North America:

US

Chapters, Canada

UK:

Bookshop.org

Waterstones

WH Smith

Foyles

Lighthouse Bookshop

Ireland:

Kenny’s

Books Upstairs

Dubray Books

O’Mahony’s

Many countries worldwide:

Book Depository

Amazon

Europe:

Germany

Sweden

The Netherlands

Switzerland

Australasia:

Australia

Torquay Books, Australia

The Nile, Australia

New Zealand

Asia:

Taiwan

Japan

March/April – Foreign Policy, the Irish Times, Taz, RTE, the Guardian, Al Jazeera (selected)

‘”Cruel” trafficker accused of torturing refugees found guilty in Ethiopia’, the Guardian, Apr 30, 2021

Event with German newspaper Taz, Apr 24, 2021

‘Denmark is wrong. Syria is anything but safe for returning refugees’, the Irish Times, Apr 24, 2021

An Ebola preparedness workshop on the Guinea-Sierra Leone border

‘Sierra Leone prepares for another Ebola outbreak’, the Irish Times, April 19, 2021

‘”No other home”: Refugees in Kenya camps devastated over closure’, Al Jazeera, Apr 5, 2021

‘”I miss school”: 800m children still not fully back in classes’, the Guardian, Apr 5, 2021

My reporting mentioned in this extract from Ty McCormick’s new book, Mar 30, 2021

‘Families still sleeping outside week after Freetown’s devastating fire’, the Irish Times, Mar 30, 2021

A boat sails away from Dublin island, Sierra Leone

‘The Sierra Leone island with an Irish name and a slave-trading past’, the Irish Times, Mar 29, 2021

Radio piece on Sierra Leonean women trafficked to the Middle East, RTE World Report, Radio One, Mar 28, 2021 (programme starts at 12.44)

A boy carries scrap metal away from the aftermath of the fire at Susan’s Bay, Freetown

‘”I have nothing”: Fire in Freetown slum displaces thousands’, the Irish Times, Mar 25, 2021

Guardian’s photo hightlights of the day, March 25, 2021.

‘Medical charity staff witness “horrific” executions in Tigray’, the Irish Times, Mar 25, 2021

‘Outcry over election-related abductions in Uganda’, the Irish Times, Mar 24, 2021

Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio gets his first vaccine dose as the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme begins

‘People trafficking: “They were killers. They have raped many women”’, the Irish Times, Mar 13, 2021

‘A major anti-Kony verdict is no relief’, Foreign Policy, Mar 9, 2021

January/February – the Irish Times, VICE, RTE (selected)

‘How Did One of North Africa’s Biggest Human Traffickers Escape Prison?’, VICE, Feb 23, 2021

A radio report on the Dominic Ongwen ICC verdict, World Report, RTE Radio One, Feb 7, 2021 (programme starts from 12.50)

Men in Dominic Ongwen’s home village watch the verdict in his International Criminal Court trial on February 4, 2021

‘Lukodi massacre: “They should pay us because we lost so many people”’, the Irish Times, Feb 5, 2021

Boys in Dominic Ongwen’s home village of Coorom listen as the ICC verdict is broadcast on a single radio set

‘In Dominic Ongwen’s home village, many see a victim more than a perpetrator’, the Irish Times, Feb 4, 2021

‘Museveni takes victory lap after winning Uganda’s presidential race’, the Irish Times, Jan 21, 2021

‘Uganda’s internet-less election may be the most surveilled ever’, the Irish Times, Jan 19, 2021

‘Ugandan election: Museveni wins sixth term as opposition leader put under “house arrest”‘, the Irish Times, Jan 17, 2021

Supporters of Yoweri Museveni celebrate his re-election as president of Uganda

‘Young Ugandans Want Change From the Only President They’ve Ever Known’, VICE, Jan 15, 2021

Soldiers patrol close to Bobi Wine’s house on the day of Uganda’s election results, as the opposition leader is placed under house arrest

Reporting on the Ugandan presidential election, Morning Ireland, RTE Radio One, Jan 14, 2021

Ugandans queue in Makere, on the outskirts of Kampala, to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections

Photos from Uganda’s presidential and parliamentary election.

‘Ugandans choose between pop singer and longtime leader in tense election’, the Irish Times, Jan 14, 2021

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine, and his wife, Barbie, leave his home ahead of voting

‘Coronavirus used as political tool in Uganda as healthcare needs neglected’, J4T/Irish Times, Jan 12, 2021

In the UCD alumni magazine.

‘Uganda’s Revolution Will Be Livestreamed’, VICE, January 11, 2021

‘Libya: coronavirus has deadly impact on life-saving evacuations’, the Irish Times, Jan 1, 2021

November/December – RTE, the Irish Times (selected)

Irish Times correspondents pick their moment of the year, World View podcast, Dec 23, 2020

‘Kony’s children: The former child soldiers of Uganda’, the Irish Times, Nov 28, 2020

Speaking at Disruption Lab conference, ‘Borders of Fear’, in Berlin, Nov 27-28

Interview in Il Mitte, Nov 14, 2020

UCD talk, Nov 12, 2020

Human smugglers go on trial in Ethiopia, World Report, RTE Radio One, Nov 8, 2020 (programme starts at 11.40)

September/October – Irish Times, RTE, Atmos (selected)

‘UN peacekeepers withdraw from South Sudan civilian protection sites’, the Irish Times, Oct 29, 2020

‘The Irish Times claims largest number of entries on journalism awards shortlist’, Oct 20, 2020

‘Libyan refugees: “We are in hell and darkness”‘, Atmos, Oct 9, 2020

Radio piece on child marriage rising during the pandemic, RTE World Report, Oct 4, 2020 (programme starts about 12 mins in)

‘Westlife’s fans across Africa: “I listen to them every day”‘, the Irish Times Magazine, Sept 26, 2020

A coronavirus burial in Gulu, northern Uganda

‘”We are not here for ceremony”: The indignity of a coronavirus burial’, the Irish Times, Sept 22, 2020 (more photos up here)

‘Evictions and hunger: life in Kampala as Covid cases surge’, the Irish Times, Sept 21, 2020

UCD Alumni Award for Law, 2020.

July/August – the Irish Times, the Guardian, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, RTE (selected)

Radio piece on an increase in poaching in Uganda’s national parks, World Report, RTE Radio One, Aug 30, 2020 (programme from around 12 minutes in)

‘Museveni deploys day of prayer in fight against coronavirus’, the Irish Times, Aug 30, 2020

The ferry port at Murchison Falls, Uganda’s biggest national park

‘”They will not open the airports”: Covid-19’s heavy toll on Ugandan tourism’, the Irish Times, Aug 20, 2020

‘Hundreds of children returned to Libya from Mediterranean in 2020’, the Irish Times, Aug 14, 2020

Book announcement, The Bookseller, Aug 13, 2020

‘Sudanese refugees protest in Niger desert camp’, the Irish Times, Aug 6, 2020

‘Calls for inquiry after migrants shot dead after being captured by Libyan coast guard’, the Irish Times, July 29, 2020

On RTE Drivetime with a report about Irish Aid for refugees in Uganda, RTE Radio One, July 28, 2020

‘Lockdown effort to curb drinking in Uganda has mixed results’, the Irish Times, July 28, 2020

‘Ugandan president will ‘crush’ protesters ahead of election’, the Irish Times, July 23, 2020

On Des’s Island Discs, RTE Radio One, July 22, 2020

‘Body floating for weeks in Mediterranean highlights ongoing drownings’, the Irish Times, July 18, 2020

‘In African villages, coronavirus sparks fears of a spike in malaria deaths’, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 15, 2020 (also in Spanish on El Pais)

‘Internet provides vital connection for Africa’s LGBT communities’, the Irish Times, July 15, 2020

On RTE World Report, talking about confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa topping half a million, RTE Radio One, July 12, 2020 (programme starts around 12 minutes in)

‘With schools closed, child labour on the rise in lockdown Uganda’, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 8, 2020

‘Refugee victims of Tajoura bombing still lie in unmarked graves one year on’, the Guardian, July 3, 2020

On the ‘Confronting Coronavirus’ podcast, the Irish Times, July 2, 2020

May/June – Irish Times, BBC, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Guardian, RTE, the Telegraph, Voice of America (selected)

‘Black Lives Matter puts focus on skin bleaching in Africa and Asia’, the Irish Times, June 23, 2020

Radio report about the challenges facing refugees in Khartoum, Sudan, during lockdown, Voice of America, June 18, 2020 (from 19.25)

‘Coronavirus: Uganda’s street children bear brunt of pandemic’, the Irish Times, June 17, 2020

e_xp4JSQChildren line up to receive free meals in Gulu, northern Uganda, April 2020

‘Sex workers’ prices plummet as coronavirus leaves them without protection’, the Irish Times, June 15, 2020

‘Thousands seek to remove colonialists’ names from Uganda’s streets’, the Irish Times, June 11, 2020

‘”There is violence in the house”: children living under one of Africa’s strictest lockdowns risk abuse’, the Telegraph, June 3, 2020

‘Activist crosses Uganda on a motorbike to deliver suncream to people with albinism’, the Irish Times, June 2, 2020

On World Report from the South-Sudan/Uganda border, RTE Radio One, May 31, 2020 (from 11.50 mins in)

rb18TyHwAt a checkpoint on the border between South Sudan and Uganda, May 2020

‘Weakened by civil war, South Sudanese surrender to coronavirus’, the Irish Times, May 30, 2020

‘”I realised my body was burning”: police brutality in Uganda lockdown’, the Guardian, May 28, 2020

‘At least 10,000 died in military detention in Nigeria’, the Irish Times, May 27, 2020

‘Migrant (39) who failed to reach Europe dies in Libyan detention centre’, the Irish Times, May 25, 2020

‘Uganda women fear food shortages will make coronavirus and HIV a deadly mix’, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, May 21, 2020

‘In Uganda, radio brings together couples separated by coronavirus’, the Irish Times, May 20, 2020

‘Activists protest at coronavirus-related “hunger pandemic” in Uganda’, the Irish Times, May 18, 2020

‘Sudanese avoid hospital as coronavirus cases surge’, the Irish Times, May 17, 2020

Was on ‘Newsday’ talking about the situation for refugees in Libya, BBC World Service, May 13, 2020

‘Coronavirus: “You can risk your life as long you are doing the right thing”‘, the Irish Times, May 6, 2020 (listed in Press Gazette’s ‘best journalism of the pandemic’)

For World Press Freedom Day: ‘The stories that will never be told’, Irish Times, May 4, 2020

March/April – the Irish Times, the Guardian, RTE, ZEIT, Al Jazeera, Voice of America (selected)

‘Rwandan police chief accused of sexual assault of child refugee at UN centre’, the Guardian, April 27, 2020

‘Children, women casualties of Uganda’s coronavirus transport ban’, Al Jazeera, April 21, 2020 (I was also interviewed about this on Voice of America)

Spoke at the online conference ‘Responding to COVID-19: The Situation in Africa’, April 21, 2020

‘Ugandans sceptical as president promotes “scientific weddings”‘, the Irish Times, April 21, 2020

‘A tale of two boats: teenager missing as countries close their ports’, the Irish Times, April 19. 2020

‘South Sudan’s refugees caught between a rock and a hard place’, the Irish Times, April 15, 2020 (co-written)

‘Refugee found dead at United Nations compound in Kenya’, the Irish Times, April 14, 2020

‘”No beating!” On patrol with the Ugandan military enforcing curfew’, the Irish Times, April 13, 2020

‘Inside the smuggler’s warehouse: Africa’s 21st-century slave trade’, the Irish Times, April 11, 2020

‘Coronavirus: Ugandan president orders stop to violent policing of curfews’, the Irish Times, April 10, 2020

‘”Wir haben immer Angst”‘, ZEIT, April 9, 2020

‘The difference between Ebola and coronavirus outbreaks? Lack of resources’, the Irish Times, April 7, 2020

‘”You feel like you’re dead but you’re alive”: Libyan war reaches first anniversary’, the Irish Times, April 4, 2020

‘Alumni tales: Journalist Sally Hayden on migration, grit and staying humble’ – interviewed by Trinity News, April 3, 2020

‘Coronavirus: Ugandans prepare for a new war as clampdown takes hold’, the Irish Times, March 31, 2020

‘Coronavirus in Uganda: “Before the sickness comes to kill us we will die from hunger”‘, the Irish Times, March 29, 2020

‘World Report’ on how coronavirus is affecting Africa, RTE Radio One, March 29, 2020 (programme starts at 15 mins in)

‘Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: How rape is used as a weapon of war’, the Irish Times, March 28, 2020

‘”Sensitise to sanitise”: Bobi Wine uses song to fight coronavirus across Africa’, the Guardian, March 26, 2020 (my photo)

‘Social distancing a distant dream in Africa’s slums’, the Irish Times, March 24, 2020

S_Hayden_200320Namuwongo 1Namuwongo, Kampala, March 2020

‘Libya’s refugees face being cut off from aid due to coronavirus’, the Guardian, March 24, 2020

On the Guardian’s ‘Today in Focus’ podcast talking about locusts in East Africa, March 15, 2020

‘Refugees in African camps worry about impact of coronavirus’, the Irish Times, March 14, 2020

‘Man (24) dies in fire in migrant detention centre in Libya’, the Irish Times, March 2, 2020

January/February – the Guardian, the Irish Times, New Internationalist, RTE, BBC, Sciences Po, GIJN, Foreign Policy (selected)

‘Uganda’s ‘locust commander’ leads the battle against a new enemy’, the Guardian, Feb 26, 2020

‘African climate activists fighting to be heard . . . and seen’, the Irish Times, Feb 24, 2020

‘Europe’s harsh border policies are pushing refugees all the way to Rwanda’, Foreign Policy, Feb 21, 2020

‘Police fire shots as poet cleared of cyberbullying Ugandan president’, the Irish Times, Feb 20, 2020

A radio report on the locust swarms in Kenya (programme starts 11.45), RTE Radio One World Report, Feb 16, 2020 (also featured on RTE Playback, Feb 22)

‘Busy African airport’s masked staff watch out for coronavirus’, the Irish Times, Feb 14, 2020

‘My favourite tools’, Global Investigative Journalism Network, Feb 12, 2020

‘”We are the eyes”: Volunteers take to skies to spot Mediterranean refugees’, the Irish Times, Feb 12, 2020

‘Migration policies in the Mediterranean and Libya: Roundtables on crimes, victims and the rule of international law’, Sciences Po, Feb 12, 2020

‘”It was like a cloud”: East Africa tackles worst swarms of locusts in decades’, the Irish Times, Feb 11, 2020

‘Two girls carry out deadly bombing outside northeast Nigerian mosque’, the Irish Times, Jan 27, 2020

Report on ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ about meeting Libyans fleeing Libya, BBC Radio 4, Jan 23, 2020

‘Teenage boy the latest to die in Libyan refugee detention centre’, the Guardian, Jan 21, 2020

On RTE World Report with a report about flying a mission with the Moonbird search and rescue plane in the Mediterranean Sea, Radio One, Jan 19, 2020

Talking at a Seebrücke event in Berlin about the situation in Libyan migrant detention centres, Jan 16, 2020

On the Irish Times ‘World View’ podcast speaking about Christmas on board a refugee rescue ship, Jan 14, 2020

‘Harsh awakening for refugees who risk everything to reach Malta’, the Irish Times, Jan 10, 2020

‘”They don’t help”: refugees condemn UN over failures that drove them to sea’, the Guardian, Jan 9, 2020

‘What next for child soldiers?’, the New Internationalist dispatch from DRC, Jan/Feb 2020 edition