Sudanese evacuees in the UK are growing increasingly concerned as their six-month visas, granted after their evacuation from conflict-ridden Sudan, are about to expire. Many, who have been residing in hotels or with relatives since their arrival in April, report that they have not received any updates from the Home Office regarding their impending status.
Azza Ahmed, a former university lecturer from Khartoum, voiced her fears of becoming an “illegal immigrant” if her visa isn’t extended post its October 26 expiration. She currently resides in a London hotel with her child.
The UK had undertaken the evacuation of 2,450 individuals, both British and other nationals, from Sudan between April 25 and May 3, 2020, following clashes between the Sudanese military and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary. The conflict, which erupted over plans for a civilian rule transition, has resulted in the deaths of up to 9,000 individuals and the displacement of nearly 5.7 million. The UN has highlighted that 25 million people now require humanitarian assistance, describing the situation in Sudan as “one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history.”
Upon their arrival, the evacuees were granted a six-month stay in the UK based on compelling compassionate grounds. However, many, like Azza Karrar, an assistant professor at the University of Khartoum, have not been informed about what comes next.
The situation is further complicated by the lack of clarity on the benefits and entitlements available to these evacuees. Katherine Soroya, an immigration caseworker at Turpin Miller, emphasized the challenges faced by these individuals in navigating the UK’s complex immigration system.
While the Home Office has indicated that visa extensions are possible, many evacuees claim they haven’t been directly informed about this or the specific conditions under which their visas were granted.
The story of Selma Bedawi, a British citizen evacuated from Sudan, underscores the challenges faced by many. Since her arrival, she has grappled with housing issues, schooling for her children, and caring for her ailing mother. Her experience highlights the broader struggles of the Sudanese evacuees in the UK, many of whom feel abandoned and uncertain about their future.