UK Sudanese exiles fear limbo as six-month visas expire.

Individuals who were evacuated from war-torn Sudan to the United Kingdom this week are concerned that their six-month visas will expire, leaving them in limbo.

Lack of Information from the Home Office

Since April, evacuees have been residing in hotels or with family members. They report that the Home Office has not provided them with any updates regarding their future status.

“I am concerned that on 26 October, I will have exceeded my six-month visa and become an illegal immigrant if nothing happens with my visa, and there is no extension,” said Azza Ahmed, who formerly taught at a university in Khartoum and currently resides with her son in a hotel in London.

Between 25 April and 3 May, the United Kingdom evacuated 2,450 British and other nationals from Sudan in response to violence between the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary over plans to transition to civilian rule, a conflict that has displaced nearly 5.7 million people and claimed the lives of up to 9,000 others. According to the United Nations, twenty-five million individuals require humanitarian assistance, and the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, described the situation in Sudan as “one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history.”

Humanitarian reasons allowed newcomers to stay in the UK for six months without restrictions.

Challenges Faced by Evacuees

Azza Karrar, an assistant professor at the University of Khartoum, was informed at Stansted Airport that the government had not yet determined the fate of evacuees six months later. She reported that she was still not notified.

“I am essentially without a place to go. My parents are in Egypt, but Sudanese nationals cannot enter “Karrar, whose spouse is British, revealed. “It may result in the feeling that you are inconsequential.” They have previously executed schemes to assist others. Why should we not?

Three children are among the family members residing in a hotel in Preston, Lancashire.

According to Katherine Soroya, a supervising immigration coordinator at the law firm Turpin Miller, the evacuees under her care were not apprised of their status, the means by which they could extend their stay, or the benefits to which they were entitled under the visa at the time of their arrival in the United Kingdom.

“In this situation, families lack a precise explanation of the benefits to which they are entitled,” Soroya stated. “It’s essentially been trial and error, with numerous individuals attempting various approaches with little input from the Home Office.” “The onus is entirely on those individuals to attempt to navigate a system that is entirely unnavigable.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office stated that evacuees could apply to extend their visas; however, Soroya claims they have not been explicitly informed of this or the fact that their visas were granted in an exceptional manner โ€“ both of which are essential details for submitting an application accurately.

Soroya stated that the visa application process is lengthy and intricate, compounded by the fact that the majority of emigrants must also submit an application for a fee waiver in advance to avoid paying up to ยฃ3,000 (excluding attorney fees).

Ahmed said, “I am extremely depressed and feel as though I have been treated without worth.” His ex-husband is British. I knew this when I first addressed the council and was met with hostility. It is strange that the government, which brought me here, is now hesitant to help. “Why bring us here if you were not pleased with our presence?”

Sudanese-born immigration adviser at Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support Waleed Abdallah stated that, similar to how it handles Ukrainians entering the United Kingdom, the government should have a structured plan in place for Sudanese arrivals.

“If we were to put it in black and white, both the Sudanese and the Ukrainians were fleeing war,” Abdallah stated. “[However] they obtained visas prior to their departure from Ukraine; the situation is entirely different in Sudan.” They [Ukrainians] were granted three-year visas upon their arrival, which is a more certain development than the current situation in which the future is uncertain.

He stated that the evacuees have few viable alternatives. Most people cannot apply for Sudanese spousal and family visas since they need a stable residence and income.

A spokesperson for the Home Office stated, “It is erroneous to pit these two vulnerable groups [Sudanese and Ukrainian refugees] against one another.” We have no intention of establishing a special resettlement route for Sudan. Currently, our primary objective is to avert a humanitarian crisis in Sudan. To achieve this, we are collaborating with the United Nations and international partners to end the conflict.

Struggles of Newcomers

Selma Bedawi’s account: “Every direction there is pressure.”

The Travelodge, situated amidst warehouses and commanding an overlooking location over one of London’s busiest thoroughfares, marks Selma Bedawi’s fourth hotel stay since her evacuation from Sudan in April.

She struggles on multiple fronts from her two hotel rooms, including finding accommodation for her four children, securing assistance from Ealing council, and providing care for her 76-year-old mother, who is afflicted with multiple chronic illnesses.

Bedawi, a British national, was airlifted from Sudan after 10 days of fighting that broke the family home’s windows. She claims that since her arrival in the country, she has lived precariously, overcoming obstacles to find food and shelter despite assurances of assistance from the British government.

“I feel pressure from every direction as I attempt to resolve every issue,” she says.

“Have no benefit from possessing a British passport; what is the point?” “Their sole assistance consisted of boarding us on the aircraft.”

Due to her sibling’s small studio flat in Ealing, west London, the family is being housed by the council. The non-British spouse and siblings of Bedawi continue to reside in Sudan.

Since she doesn’t have a kitchen, Bedawi keeps her sandwich cheese in a cooler. The manager threatened to remove her for using a charity-donated microwave in her Slough hotel room.

She is eligible to receive universal credit for four members of her family. Mother Laila Bala and her eldest son are both deemed ineligible. This week, Bala’s right to remain will expire.

Bala, bedridden with diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, uses a charity-donated walker to go to the toilet. “Everything was lost; my residence, my possessions, everything. The family is dispersed in all directions. “I’m extremely exhausted,” Bala declares.

Pressures on the Ealing Council

The 10-year-old twins of Bedawi are absent from school. In September, her older sons, ages 16 and 18, commenced their collegiate studies in the vicinity of Slough.

“No one can predict what will occur next,” Bedawi declares. It has an impact on the offspring. They are one day joyful and another day depressed. It is unlike theirs. They are increasing their questioning in an effort to comprehend the situation. They inquire whether we are destitute.

“Like the majority of other London boroughs, Ealing is grappling with a chronic housing shortage and a significant increase in the number of families in need of emergency B&B accommodations due to the cost of living crisis,” a spokesperson for the council says. “While every effort is made to assist residents in need to the greatest extent possible, the council is operating under extreme pressure and in a broken housing market.”

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