Saved from the death squads: Darfuris given asylum in UK

Government backtracks after refugee was executed on his return to Sudan

Hundreds of Darfuris fleeing persecution in Sudan will be given protection in Britain after a government U-turn on its handling of asylum claims brought by refugees from the troubled African state.

The change of policy follows mounting evidence that non-Arab asylum seekers returned to Sudan face arrest, torture and death at the hands of the Arab militias and security services. In one case, highlighted by The Independent earlier this year, a Darfuri man repatriated to Khartoum was executed after government officers followed him to his village in the south of the region.

Under the new policy, released without announcement on Monday by the Home Office, all non-Arab Darfuris will qualify for asylum. The decision was welcomed by the Darfuri community in the UK, many of whom have been living under the threat of deportation.

Mariam Suliman, 30, a doctor from Darfur, and her husband, Sideeq Sharaf, 32, a science student, fled the state after their village was attacked by Arab militias who were supported by the Khartoum government.

Mrs Suliman, who came to the UK in 2000, said they were delighted by the decision, saying: "It means we can be a family again." She added: "For many Darfurian victims who escaped the place of dying, and were waiting for a long time to get their refugee status, this will be a huge benefit.

"It's the end of frustration, depression, hopelessness and despair which has been [created by] the long waiting. Darfuris will be able to study and work and contribute to [the] economy and integrate to the community."

Under the new policy, asylum-seekers will be given the right to stay for up to five years, or until the political situation improves. The conflict in Darfur is regarded by the United Nations as one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. It is estimated that 300,000 people have died in the conflict and more than 2.5 million have been forced to flee the region.

After monitoring the situation, the Home Office instructed its lawyers to withdraw opposition to appeals brought by all non-Arab Darfuris, who had been forced to go to court to prove that their lives would be in danger if they were sent home. A test case due to be heard later this month has been abandoned.

Louise Roland-Gosselin, group director of Waging Peace, a charity which has campaigned for more protection for the people of Darfur, said: "After years of waiting, all Darfuris in the UK who can prove their ethnicity will be given asylum status. This is likely to affect over 500 Darfuris... many of these have been waiting up to four years for a decision on their asylum status."

Khatir Kayabil, general secretary of the Darfur Union, also welcomed the decision: "So many of our members have been living in limbo for years. Now we can start to rebuild our lives here."

Matthew Coats, head of immigration at the UK Border Authority, said: "The Government takes its international responsibilities seriously and we will grant protection to those Sudanese nationals that need it. We will continue to consider each application for protection on its individual merits.

"We will always seek to remove from the UK those who do not need our protection and who have no right to remain here. We will monitor the situation in Sudan very carefully and will review our policy as and when new information becomes available."

Asylum-seekers: Campaign for justice

17 March 2009 Failed asylum-seeker Adam Osman Mohammed, 32, is deported by the UK Government and flown back to Khartoum. After leaving the airport, he is followed home to his village in the south of the region and shot in front of his family by Sudan security officials.

7 July 2008 The charity Waging Peace and The Independent highlight a secret U-turn by which the Home Office lifted the ban on returning Darfuri asylum seekers to Khartoum.

2 October 2007 At the Labour Party conference, Gordon Brown promises to stand up for those being persecuted in Burma, Darfur and Zimbabwe, saying "human rights are universal". But the Home Office continues to reject applications from refugees, becoming embroiled in protracted court battles to enable the enforced removals of both Zimbabweans and Darfuris.

13 April 2007 Human rights campaigners claim that the Home Office is collaborating with the Sudanese government to question asylum seekers fleeing the violence in Darfur.

500

The number of asylum-seekers expected to benefit from the ministerial ruling.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower