Recreate UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme for Sudan refugees, urges one of plan’s architects
One of the architects of Britain’s Homes for Ukraine scheme is calling on the government to replicate the programme for refugees from Sudan.
Dr Krish Kandiah, the director of the Sanctuary Foundation, which was instrumental in matching many British hosts with Ukrainian refugees, said he wanted the country to show the “same generosity of spirit” to those fleeing war in Sudan as it did to Ukrainians.
Within days of proposing the idea online, more than 100 people have formally registered with the organisation as being willing to host Sudanese families escaping the civil war.
Kandiah said: “We’re not asking for unlimited numbers. We’re just asking for equity, that the same opportunity that was given to Ukrainians if they can find a sponsor and a host, can happen to a Sudanese person too.”
He added: “The Homes for Ukraine and Ukraine Family scheme have been an incredible success, welcoming over 173,500 refugees to the UK, frequently being hosted in people’s homes. We need to show that same generosity of spirit and open hospitality to people from Sudan.”
Chris Wilmmott, 56, a retired university lecturer, and his wife, Anne Willmott, 55, a doctor, have signed up to host at their home in Leicester if a visa route is established. They took in a Ukrainian couple for seven months last year and have space in their home again.
Chris said: “They’re fellow human beings fleeing from difficult situations. And if we’ve got the capacity to help them, we should do so. If we don’t have a Homes for Sudan type scheme, they’re in a chicken-and-egg difficulty as you can’t claim asylum unless you’re here, and we don’t have the safe routes to do that. And we’re making that increasingly difficult.”
Cathy Ashley, a charity chief executive, has had a young Ukrainian woman living with her family in their south London home since last year. Their guest will be returning to Ukraine next month, and Ashley would like the option to help a Sudanese refugee in the same way.
“I’ve enjoyed having her as part of our home and I want to be able to make that same offer available to those fleeing persecution in Sudan, because their need is as great,” Ashley said. “Without these safe routes, people are forced into terrifically desperate situations.”
She added: “The government said there would be safe routes for those having to flee Sudan but there are none.”
The Sanctuary Foundation is also proposing that the family visa scheme set up for Ukrainian relatives of people already living in Britain should be emulated for Sudan. Many expatriate Sudanese families living in Britain are worried for their relatives and want the opportunity to open up their homes.
Mohammed Amin, 40, arrived as a refugee by boat from Calais in 2020 after fleeing Sudan and now has asylum. His sister and nephew recently fled Khartoum and he wants them to be able to live with him.
“The situation is so bad. We need the same things that were done for Ukraine,” he said. “I’m trying to help them but it’s difficult. They ran out of Khartoum and they have no food, no place, and I’m trying to send them money from here to there but the banks aren’t working.”
Algaly Saeed, who came to Britain from Sudan almost two decades ago, wants his adult son Hussam, who has been living in Khartoum, to be able to join him. Saeed, 56, who works as a taxi driver and lives with his wife and daughter in a four-bedroom house in Rotherham, says he has room for him to join.
“All we ask is for the British people to help us like they did Ukrainians,” he said.
A government spokesperson said there were no plans to open a “bespoke resettlement route” for Sudan, adding that it was focused on preventing a humanitarian emergency by “working with international partners and the United Nations to bring an end to fighting”.
“Since 2015 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.”