Impact of COVID-19 on Sudanese communities in the UK

Shabaka has undertaken a policy brief to identify and outline the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sudanese communities in the UK, whether in their day-to-day lives or connections with Sudan, and provides evidence of the need for better support and coordination between Sudanese communities. They have laid out recommendations that are intended as practical guidance for national and local governments, Sudanese diaspora organisations and service providers.  

Diaspora and other Black, Asian, and Ethnic Minority (BAME) communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic, both in terms of the health impacts and resulting in lockdowns, travel restrictions and related economic impacts. However, different diaspora communities have also been affected differently by the pandemic, each facing their own unique challenges that intersect with socio-economic conditions, gender, age and generation.  

This briefing aims to highlight the specific experiences of Sudanese communities in the UK, identifying the institutional and community barriers they face in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic and associated restrictions.  

The data for this report was collected in December 2020; however, shortly before the research was completed, the UK’s devolved governments instituted national restrictions to mitigate the rise in COVID-19 cases. Nonetheless, this survey revealed the interactions amongst communities in both the UK and Sudan in forging solutions to the crisis and the levels and diversity of individual and community support. The findings enabled us to identify and categorise response and motivations, alongside gaps, and recommend pathways to a more integrated approach for cooperating towards an effective response.  

The key recommendations include:  

Policymakers: National and local government 

  • Provision of timely and culturally appropriate, and accessible information  
  • Enhanced direct coordination with communities and increased synergies and partnerships with relevant stakeholders  
  • Regular direct outreach to migrants, including workers and self-employed, regarding economic and employment support measures  
  • Ensure protection is extended to irregular migrants to access health and other services  

Sudanese diaspora organisations 

  • Establish a UK-wide umbrella group for Sudanese migrant/diaspora organisations and groups that brings members and broader networks together to contribute to responses when a joint approach is needed  
  • Strong leadership and multi-sectoral co-ordination, preparedness and response to crises in all relevant areas – including health, education, and housing – as well as national and local government service connectivity is needed to reach communities in various parts of the UK, taking into consideration gender, age and disability  

For local, national and international voluntary and community sector 

  • Value diaspora communities’ lived experience as critical stakeholders and equitable partners in the delivery of services  
  • Remove barriers, signpost and engage diaspora communities in the decision making of steering committees and policy implementation  
  • Provide flexible funding pots for Sudanese organisations and groups to develop and sustain COVID-19 responses and initiatives