Suella Braverman image

Claim Sudan refugees can apply for asylum through UNHCR is False

The ongoing crisis in Sudan has led to significant numbers of refugees fleeing the country as its civil war deepens. 

Home secretary Suella Braverman was asked by Sky News what she would do with people who came to the UK from Sudan in a small boat crossing. 

She claimed there were “various mechanisms” people from Sudan could use if they wanted to seek asylum in the UK. 

If you are someone who is fleeing Sudan for humanitarian reasons there are various mechanisms you can use. The UNHCR is present in the region and they are the right mechanism by which people should apply if they do want to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.

Suella Braverman

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it False

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project


The escalation of war in Sudan has so far led to at least 100,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations (UN)

This has led to questions about whether refugees from the conflict will be welcome in the UK. 

The war has coincided with the UK’s illegal migration bill, which was voted through by MPs last week. It aims to tackle small boat crossings by those coming to the UK, but critics say it is unworkable and so far ministers have been unable to say whether the bill would be compatible with the European convention on human rights.

Home secretary Suella Braverman appeared on Sky News on 26 April, and was asked what would happen to people who fled Sudan and ended up crossing to the UK in small boats. 

She replied that there were “various mechanisms” that people from Sudan could use to seek asylum in the UK, and that the UK Government’s new law was intended to deal with “people who come here illegally”.

It is important to note that there is no single definition of “illegal immigration” in the UK. According to the Oxford University Migration Observatory, there are a number of ways in which someone can become an “irregular migrant”. These include entering through regular routes with a valid visa but breaching conditions of entry, entering outside of regular routes, or by staying in the country once your asylum application has failed and appeals have been exhausted. 

Crossing the Channel to the UK in a small boat would be considered an irregular route. However, irregular routes used by those seeking asylum are not considered to be illegal under  international law. According to the UN refugee convention, which the UK is a signatory of, people seeking asylum cannot be penalised for using irregular routes to enter the country.

At present, an irregular route is the most common way for those seeking asylum to enter the UK. If the UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill, which is currently going through Parliament passes in its current form those who arrived on irregular routes after 7 March will not be allowed to apply for asylum and will be subject to detention and deportation. 

There are a few routes which are officially recognised by the UK Government, but they are not available for the majority of people seeking asylum in the UK. These include the UK resettlement scheme and the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

According to the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, the UK’s resettlement scheme restricts “any new submissions to highly exceptional cases on an ad-hoc basis”, and that “new resettlement opportunities to the UK for nationalities other than Afghans are minimal”.

In the Sky News interview, Braverman stated that “the UNHCR is present in the region and they are the right mechanism by which people should apply if they do want to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.”

However, the UNHCR denied this, stating: “UNHCR wishes to clarify that there is no mechanism through which refugees can approach UNHCR with the intention of seeking asylum in the UK.”

The statement went on to say that resettlement is “available only for a very limited number of refugees who have left their own countries and been identified as particularly at risk in the countries where they initially sought refuge”.

The UN agency also confirmed there was no application process for resettlement, with refugees being identified through “ongoing protection programmes in countries of asylum”.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: False

Suella Braverman’s claim that people in Sudan should apply to the UNHCR to apply for asylum is not accurate. There is no application process for asylum in the UK through the UNHCR, and such resettlement schemes are only available for a very small number of refugees.

This claim is false

Photo credit: UK Home Office

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