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Home Office overturns Sudanese man’s rejected asylum claim after using wrong information

The Home Office has overturned a wrongful asylum rejection after i revealed the decision was based on outdated information which did not include the fact that the man’s home was a war zone.

Abdul*, a Sudanese national who applied for asylum in the UK, received a rejection letter from the Home Office dated last month which incorrectly stated that there was “not a real risk” to him from “indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict” in his home country – despite Sudan descending into civil war just three months ago.

In the letter, asylum decision-makers admitted they had used information about Sudan from 2021 to assess the safety of the country, despite a war breaking out in April 2023.

Abdul told i he was left “speechless” by the letter, while Care4Calais, a refugee charity which has been supporting him, said the incident was a “scandal”. It also sparked a backlash on social media with calls for the Home Office to re-examine its decision making process.

Following an article in this newspaper, the Home Office said it would contact Abdul to review his asylum application. A few weeks later, Abdul was granted asylum in the UK and received his residency permit in the post.

Abdul said the permit was a “total surprise” and that he was “very happy” that the decision had been overturned. He submitted an appeal after his rejection but with an asylum backlog with waits lasting months, he expected a “long delay”.

“It was a long journey. I can feel the difference between before residency and after: I never felt safe before and I’ve started feeling safe now,” Abdul said.

“I’m also surprised about the impact of residency and right to work. You can’t really have a life before you get your status. You can’t contribute to society or even dare to dream. Now that can change, and I have those rights. I’m willing to start working and contributing, and have a normal life and become a normal person.”

Abdul, who was speaking to i through a translator, said that he wants to improve his English to allow him to study and work. He said he “definitely” wants to get a job and would like to work as an engineer.

But most of all, he wants to be reunited with his wife, who is still in the Sudanese warzone. The couple haven’t seen eachother since mid-2019 when he fled Sudan.

The Government has a family reunion policy which enables individuals with protection status in the UK to sponsor their partner or children to stay with or join them here, provided they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country of origin to seek protection.

“I hope my wife can be with me, that’s it. I’m not 100 per cent feeling safe without her, but as soon as she gets here feel totally safe. If you’re married, you can’t feel safe without your partner,” he said.

Abdul arrived in the UK in 2020. He told the Home Office he had been arrested in 2019 by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary group who are currently battling for control of the country, and wrongly accused of supporting the Sudanese liberation movement.

He says he was detained and tortured for more than two weeks and was only released on the basis that he report regularly to the forces. Following his escape from Sudan, his relative was arrested as troops searched for Abdul.

Steve Smith, CEO of refugee charity Care4Calais said that without media coverage “Abdul’s future would still be in limbo”.

“Everyone surely knows there’s a conflict raging in Sudan,” he said. “That this was somehow lazily overlooked in the original decision beggars belief. Behind every asylum claim is a human being and it’s frightening that decisions, which will determine their future, are being made using outdated country information. That we’ve been able to get that decision overturned demonstrates the value of our fantastic Care4Calais volunteers who support refugees 365 days a year, and the importance of speaking out against injustice.”

Mr Smith added: “We are very grateful to i for covering Abdul’s story. Without the paper’s intervention, Abdul’s future would still be in limbo. His life would have continued to be on hold for months as he waited for the Home Office to hear his appeal.

“With the conflict in Sudan raging on, it’s vital that Ali’s wife is able to join him in the UK as soon as possible. Only then will he be free to look forward to a brighter future, with his family safe and the ability to pursue his career as an engineer.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Each asylum case is considered on its individual merits by caseworkers who receive extensive training.”

*Name has been changed to protect identity

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