Stranded Nigerians implicate UK of overlooking pleas of black refugees fleeing Ukraine


2 weeks earlier, Alani Iyanuoluwa left Kyiv as the Russian intrusion magnified. Making her way throughout Europe, the 24-year-old intended to be reunited with family in London. Yet for 10 days she has actually been stranded in a French port-- because she is Nigerian.Iyanuoluwa is among a growing number of refugees who claim the British government is ignoring black people who left Ukraine.

Their experiences have actually again raised the concern of race and the UK's welcome to refugees, prompting claims that ministers would never have actually revealed last week's humanitarian sponsorship plan for Ukrainians had it not been targeted at white Europeans.

Critics state that while Michael Gove's plan places no limit on numbers, it contrasts sharply with the government's visa scheme for Afghans, which guaranteed areas for just 5,000 people in the very first year. When the scheme lastly opened in January, it emerged that the majority of those areas would be taken by Afghans already residing in Britain.

A previous sponsorship plan, introduced in 2015 and mostly for Syrian refugees, has actually been obstructed by bureaucracy, managing about 700 placements in seven years compared with Gove's guarantee of "10s of thousands" for Ukrainians.

Alba Kapoor, senior policy supervisor at the Runnymede Trust, said the UK's response to the Ukrainian crisis had actually thrown up questions of parity amid claims that black people getting away the conflict tended to be "dehumanised" and deemed African migrants instead of Ukrainian refugees. "There's an apparent concern, which is why people of colour who are fleeing war and terror and persecution do not have equivalent treatment to others," she stated.

" We are still challenged by a failure to appropriately conceive people from the global south as human beings if they are trying to run away war and persecution. That's an unfortunate place to be-- it's not just the government, but also the press."

Kapoor said no Alan Kurdi minute-- the Syrian young boy photographed lying dead on a Turkish beach in 2015-- had actually been needed to galvanise support for refugees fleeing away from the fighting.

Jabeer Butt, chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation, said: "Devastatingly, race has undoubtedly been an issue in the level of support supplied by the UK government for refugees from Ukraine compared with those from Afghanistan and other places that have faced horrible conflict recently."

The government's fixation with seeing refugees on the basis of where they originated from required to be re-examined. "We can not blindly accept a tiered system whereby people's requirements are prioritised based on nationality. This feels like being asked by the government to accept that in Britain we value the lives of people with a certain skin colour over others," he stated.

Iyanuoluwa is staying with 2 other Nigerian students in Boulogne-sur-Mer. All 3 fear returning to Nigeria because of the risks of kidnapping and trafficking, however state that as non-Ukrainian nationals they are not qualified for the British plans, regardless of 2 of them having family in the UK.

" We're coming from war and they are telling us that without a Ukrainian passport we can't come to the UK, however the UK should think about all locals living in Ukraine when the war started," she stated.Iyanuoluwa is among a large group identified by charities that appears to have been split up from other Ukrainians by authorities because they are black.

They consist of Kevin Kanjuru, from Kenya, who was studying computer technology in Kyiv when Russia attacked and has family in Britain-- an uncle in Northampton with UK citizenship who is likewise a local councillor.

They also include Nigerian Michael Uwandu who lived in Ukraine for 12 years however who was separated from his nine-year-old daughter and Ukrainian ex partner who got away before him and has lost contact with them.

The 37-year-old was granted Ukrainian citizenship in late February but had to leave before collecting his passport. Uwandu should be eligible for Gove's scheme but the lack of proof of citizenship appears to have actually hampered his application and he has a sister, a British national, and cousin in the UK he is attempting to join.

Others seemingly stranded consist of an Afghan refugee who had refugee status in Ukraine, but is not qualified for the sponsorship scheme-- regardless of a UK national offering to sponsor her.

Clare Moseley, founder of the charity Care4Calais, stated: "The UK plans to assist Ukrainian refugees come to Britain are heavily biased towards Ukrainian nationals. However they are not the only people whose homes and lives have actually been damaged by the conflict.".

The government's nationalities and borders bill, which is to retun to House of Commons in the coming weeks, means to criminalise anyone arriving in the UK without authorization, as all asylum hunters do.The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities rejected the claims as "utterly unwarranted." A representative stated: "We are working as quick as possible to house refugees from across the world and are proud this nation has supplied homes for more than 4,000 Afghans evacuees in such a short period of time.

" The ₤ 10,500 provided to councils to support each [Ukranian] arrival is the same level of funding as under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme and we advise councils to join those who have actually pledged to support Afghan families, and those who can provide more housing places, to do so.

" The plan is open to Ukrainian nationals who were citizens in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022, regardless of ethnic background, and likewise to their immediate relative who may be of other citizenships.".

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