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Sudanese Support

Following the outbreak of conflict in Sudan in April this year, British nationals were airlifted out of Khartoum and flown to the U.K. Additionally a small number of Sudanese and other third country nationals were evacuated based on their family connection to a British national. These ‘other’ nationals were granted 6 months leave to enter outside the rules.

New Arrivals

Evacuees arriving in the West Midlands were placed in hotels and Local Authorities acted quickly to respond to their needs. Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Walsall Councils commissioned RMC to assist the new arrivals. We immediately deployed our Arabic speaking colleagues to visit Sudanese evacuees in hotels and temporary accommodation.

Our staff registered people, identifying those who were (Sudanese) British nationals and those who had accompanied them and were given 6 months leave to enter. We passed on food and clothes vouchers as emergency interim support and assisted people to apply for benefits, schools if they had children, housing, and to register with GPs. In some instances, urgent help was needed to access medication, in other cases advice was given, in consultation with the Council, about moving on. Some arrivals had family or connections elsewhere and were assisted to relocate.

Recognising the urgency of the situation and trauma people had experienced, RMC dedicated its resources to making a rapid humanitarian response. Time has moved on, but many Sudanese are still in hotels and concerned about extended family back home, and what will happen when their leave to enter expires.

Safaa’s Story

Safaa Almaki, a Sudanese evacuee, who has attended RMC’s ESOL classes shared her story. Known affectionately as ‘Saba Queen’, it quickly becomes apparent Safaa is the strong woman this title denotes. Her father was a respected General in the army, she comes from a big established family, has taught I.T. at Jubba University, and is director of a cosmetics company. On the day that conflict erupted in Khartoum she was on her way to work to sort out a system and network issue in the Taxation Chambers, a government authority. Advised by officials at a road-block, however, that tensions were rising, she returned to her home on the outskirts.

So began the days of anxiety and uncertainty about the unfolding conflict between militia and army. She relays with relief that due to her husband being a British national, they were able to call upon the British embassy for help. Her description of the day they drove through Khartoum to get to the military airport was both graphic and traumatic. She experienced numerous checkpoints and witnessed death and destruction. But she is grateful that they were able to pick up her mother, sister and brother-in-law in the heart of the city and get to safety.

Now with her husband in a small hotel room in Walsall, she wonders about the future. She has adult sons in Birmingham and anticipates moving soon. She expresses worry that her leave to enter the UK will expire in October but acknowledges she is one of the fortunate ones able to escape the fighting in her country.

Request to the Home Office

RMC worked with Central England Law Centre to ask, on behalf of the West Midlands Immigration Advisors Network (chaired by RMC), Coventry MP, Zarah Sultana, to request that the Home Office advise as to whether those in Safaa’s position would be granted indefinite leave to remain (in line with the Home Office policy on resettled refugees and those evacuated from Afghanistan). The response from the Minister for Immigration states: ‘they should apply for Leave Outside the Rules using the standard FLO(HRO) form’ to extend their stay, which could have a total fee of £2,608. ‘Each case will be assessed on its merits.’

The Network concludes: ‘This is disappointing given that they have been treated less favourably than other nationals who have recently entered the UK for humanitarian reasons.’

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