Join us in opposing the
anti-refugee bill

This month’s newsletter blog comes courtesy of Peter Verney (pictured below), who we imagine some of you already know well! He has been involved in Sudanese current affairs since 1977 and has worked on more than 2,000 asylum cases in the last 20 years. Below he provides his views on the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is often known as the Anti-Refugee Bill, currently back in the UK’s House of Commons and soon to become law.

If you have not yet asked your MP to vote against it, now is the time! Just contact us and we can help, or check out the solidarity actions offered by Together With Refugees, a coalition of which Waging Peace is a member.

Join Scotland in opposing the Bill – a majority of their MSPs this week voted to reject it.

And this month, hear directly from our Co-Executive Directors Sonja and Maddy about the current situation in Sudan, as well as the powerful personal testimony of Marwa E., on the podcast offered by The Worldwide Tribe, available here or wherever you usually get your podcasts.

The UK Nationality and Borders Bill currently having been pushed through the House of Lords includes the most draconian measures yet seen against asylum seekers, and clearly and unambiguously violates international law.

The Bill includes plans for offshore detention, meaning the processing of cases would be in places out of sight and difficult for charities, journalists, lawyers and human rights/independent monitors to access.

It will increase the maximum sentence for the offence of 'assisting unlawful immigration' to life.

The government’s new asylum plans will cost more than two and a half billion pounds a year, almost double what is currently spent, according to a report by Together With Refugees, a coalition including the British Red Cross and the Refugee Council.

It fixates on the idea of deterrence, of so-called ‘pull factors’, and completely ignores the actual ‘push’ factors which lead Sudanese people to join those seeking asylum.

Contrast the minimal media coverage of the massive repeated protests by Sudanese people against the military-Islamist coup of 25th October 2021 with the obsessive coverage of a relatively small number of people crossing by boat to the UK to seek asylum.

Although overall numbers have not changed significantly, the closing off of other routes led to more people risking the Channel crossing in small boats. The UK is still taking fewer refugees than continental European countries such as Germany and France, but they have become a political pawn in a theatre of needless and ignorant cruelty.

Instead of addressing the root causes pushing people, including Sudanese, to seek asylum, the government has focused on measures to make it harder and more ignominious than ever.

Making conditions more miserable is not having an effect on the numbers of asylum claims or small boat crossings. But the mental and physical toll which it places on asylum seekers leaves lasting damage, as well as costing lives.

Sudanese who fled the military-Islamist regime have often spent time in makeshift camps in Calais trying to cross to the UK.

Some were placed in housing around the UK, often run-down and poorly maintained.

More recently, during the COVID lockdown especially, many have been put in hotels unsuitable for prolonged stay, without the freedom even to cook food for themselves.

The Home Office contractors Mears Group have been criticised for lack of sensitivity.

Racists have tried entering the hotels to terrorise the inhabitants supposedly living in luxury. The reality was that if they were accommodated in hotels, they received £8 per week in spending allowance.

The lack of agency over their own lives, the sense of isolation and powerlessness, has pushed some to breaking point.

In June 2020 Badr el Din Abdallah Adam, from Sudan, was shot dead by armed police after he stabbed and seriously injured six people. The 28-year-old had been placed in the Park Inn hotel in Glasgow.

Some have ended up in rotting former army barracks, exposed to COVID-19. There was a huge outbreak of coronavirus at Napier barracks.

The High Court recently found the Home Office had acted unlawfully over the “filthy” and "overcrowded" conditions at Napier Barracks, but the Home Office is pushing ahead regardless.

A deal that the Home Office has struck with private company Clearsprings - who run Napier Barracks - is worth £1bn over 10 years. It would almost certainly be cheaper to build housing.

Further reading:
Peter’s recent article in the Society for the Study of the Sudans UK’s publication, ‘Sudan Studies for South Sudan and Sudan’ (no. 64) dated July 2021 on ‘Asylum Seekers in the UK in 2021: The state of play’.

Border Criminologies will be running a blog series over the coming few weeks focusing on everyday violence and resistance in Europe’s ‘migration management’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the introductory blog.
If you would like to support our work campaigning against human rights abuses throughout Sudan, including Darfur and the Nuba Mountains, and supporting Sudanese refugees in the UK to create meaningful lives, please donate.
Copyright © 2022 Waging Peace, All rights reserved.

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