UK Home Office accused of racism, favoring Ukraine refugees over Sudan
The UK Refugee Council suggests that family reunion applications from Sudanese nationals should be expedited, and that the UK should reflect on its colonial history with Sudan and support aiding the refugees.
In light of the ongoing conflict in Sudan, as thousands flee the country in search of refuge, the UK Home Office has been accused of an “unashamedly racist” refugee system as it refuses to allow Sudanese refugees from entering the UK for shelter but goes above and beyond for the Ukrainians.
A lack of choices for those fleeing Sudan sheds light on the behavior of the UK government towards them, especially seen with the final evacuation flight from Sudan to the UK last week. Almost 300,000 visas have been issued for Ukrainians so far to depart Ukraine amid the war, including 193,900 for the UK's homes sponsorship scheme, launched in March 2022.
94,900 Ukrainians were granted a family scheme that allows them to join relatives in the UK - immigration experts, however, believe that the skin color of the refugees seems to play a quite significant role in the different approaches.
Policy and advocacy manager for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Caitlin Boswell, said, "The racism of the UK’s immigration system couldn’t be more clear, with this government drawing policies affecting people seeking safety along stark racial lines. At the same time, ministers are using unashamedly inflammatory and far-right language, whipping up hatred towards black and brown migrants."
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Fizza Qureshi, chief executive of the Migrants’ Rights Network, said: “The blatant refusal to provide the level of sanctuary and safety for Sudanese refugees in comparison to white Ukrainians has firmly exposed the unashamedly racist thinking at the heart of immigration legislation. They have created a segregated refugee system," adding that "any shred of compassion for black and brown refugees has well and truly disappeared.”
In response, a government spokesperson stated how "wrong" it is to pit "vulnerable groups" against each other. "Preventing a humanitarian emergency in Sudan is our focus right now... Alongside the UK evacuation effort, we are working with international partners and the UN to bring an end to fighting. We have no plans to open a bespoke resettlement route for Sudan.”
The Refugee Council's chief executive, Enver Solomon, claimed that the Home Office's power would have allowed it to help a lot more Sudanese refugees through visa grants, but did not want to.
Racism seen in Sudan, Afghanistan
As a result of the conflict in Sudan since mid-April, the UK has brought back more than 2,300 people on flights, including Britons, their dependants, and Sudanese NHS staff but no more trips are planned.
According to Boswell, the government's response to Afghanistan has shown just the same claim.
Launched in 2022, the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) intended to aid the women and girls at risk in Afghanistan and to resettle up to 20,000 people. Shockingly, just 22 Afghan citizens have been resettled in the UK.
“It’s a ridiculous number. It’s not functioning at all. All the government’s schemes – except for Ukraine – are not fit for purpose,” said Boswell.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman contradicted herself by saying that there were no safe and legal routes for the Sudanese, while wrongly claiming that the Sudanese have “various” legal ways to enter, which the UN refugee agency rebuked.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly quickly jumped back and rejected his cabinet member's claim by stating that safe and legal routes” for Sudanese will be established but refused to “speculate on the numbers of [sic] nature of those routes.”
In 2022, only 1,185 people were resettled including 218 Sudanese.
“Since 2015," a government spokesperson, "we have offered a safe and legal route to the UK to almost half a million people seeking safety but our approach must be considered in the round, rather than on a crisis-by-crisis basis.”