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.
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.
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.’