When I first heard the good news that we were going to be resettled in the UK, it was happiness and joy, a big leap, a big change in my life. I remember thinking to myself, “finally my kids will have a good, normal life”.
I was an accountant in Sudan, but because of the conflict, harassment, and hostile regime I fled to Egypt where I lived as an urban refugee with my wife and children for 17 years. I was studying and working during this time but even in Egypt, I was living in a harsh situation.
This is because the Sudanese security forces abroad were hunting people like me who had left. I worked for an organisation that helped Sudanese refugees. Many Sudanese I worked with were activists like myself; when they were deported back to Sudan, they were killed, tortured, some of them just disappeared without a trace. These were people I knew.
I was also a political activist, and so I witnessed kidnapping, and even received direct threats to my life on the phone. I was deeply concerned for my family and kids. We applied to UNHCR in 2011 and were granted entry to the Gateway Resettlement Programme in 2017.
We arrived in Greater Manchester in 2017, and it was a breath of relief after a long wait: six years of wondering what would happen to us. If I did not come, you can see there was a very real risk that I would lose my life. You can see why resettlement was a very positive move for us.
Since resettlement, everything has changed. I now enjoy peace of mind and security. My kids are functioning well, and they are well integrated in the community. They are doing good in school and participating in activities.
But I faced challenges when I first started rebuilding my life in the UK. Back home in Sudan, I had graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and worked as an accountant. In Egypt, I studied International Negotiation and Psychosocial Work, which led me to working in community development in the refugee field. When I came to the UK, I had to start from the beginning.
I had to build my integration knowledge and take my GCSEs. But not only did I pass the GCSEs, I have made it as far as pursuing a Master’s degree in international management. I’m in my fourth semester now. My journey wasn’t easy at first, but I’m doing well now. In my free time, I make sure to help my community in the UK by volunteering for refugee charities.
Based on my own experience, I can say that the opportunity for resettlement will have a positive impact on families seeking safety. I know some refugees in the Kakuma camp in Kenya; they are born in the camp and they are still living in the camp. Their lives are very difficult. They are in desperate situations. Resettlement could change their lives for the better.
When refugees come to the UK, they add diversity and contribute to the economy. They integrate and positively affect local communities. They are very intelligent and have positive and fresh ideas. They are resilient. They deserve the opportunity for resettlement.
This post was originally published on Refugee Action.