Sudanese in the United Kingdom

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Sudan Sudanese in the United Kingdom United Kingdom
Total population
Sudanese-born residents
10,671 (2001 UK Census)
Regions with significant populations
Greater London, Brighton, West Midlands
Arabic, English
Islam (Sunni), Christianity (Coptic)

Sudanese in the United Kingdom (also British Sudanese)[1] including Sudanese-born immigrants to the UK and their British-born descendants are an extremely diverse national group, especially in terms of political and religious views. It is thought that the UK is home to the oldest Sudanese diaspora in the Western World, as well as one of the largest.[2] Sudanese migrants to the UK have traditionally included professionals, business people and academics, and more recently have included asylum seekers fleeing Sudan's second civil war. Sudanese people live in many of the UK's largest cities and towns.[2]

History and settlement[edit]

Sudanese granted asylum or exceptional leave in the UK by year[3]
Granted Refused
1989 45 5
1990 15 5
1991 15 10
1992 265 125
1993 1,400 75
1994 50 145
1995 15 60
1996 65 95
1997 75 205
1998 55 65
1999 45 50
2000 180 395
2001 175 595
2002 110 455
2003 155 595
2004 160 1,305
2005 90 900
2006 70 510
2007 80 305

The Sudanese community in the UK is most likely the oldest in the developed world. Despite two civil wars and the war in Darfur, which decimated the Sudanese population by several million,[4] the earliest immigrants from Sudan to the UK were not asylum seekers, but mostly professionals, business people and academics.[2] This migration trend lasted until the late 1980s when the Sudanese government was ousted by a military coup led by Omar al-Bashir, who soon claimed presidency over Sudan.[4]

The nature of Sudanese migration to the UK changed dramatically and has continued through to the 21st century, when several violent struggles between the Janjaweed militia and numerous rebel groups displaced millions of people, and despite an improving economy in Sudan there remains considerable civil and political unrest in the North African nation.[4] Thousands of these displaced persons ultimately fled to the UK, amongst other countries, and claimed asylum.[2]

Asylum applications from Sudan peaked in 1993 and again in 2004. The majority of applications in the early 1990s were accepted, with applicants either granted asylum or exceptional leave to remain, but since 1994, the majority of applications have been refused (see table).[3]


Population size[edit]

According to the 2001 UK Census, a total of 10,671 people born in Sudan were residing in the UK.[5] This figure is the fifteenth highest migrant population in the UK of all African nations and fifth out of all Arab nations.[5] The only OECD state with more Sudanese-born residents is the United States.[5] A 2006 estimate by the International Organization for Migration suggests that between 10,000 and 25,000 Sudanese are living in London, and anywhere between 3,000 and 18,000 in Brighton. Some 4,000 to 5,000 Sudanese reside in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region, and the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are home to just over 1,000 Sudanese people each. There are also significant numbers of Sudanese dispersed across the UK in cities and towns including as Dundee, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Leeds, Portsmouth, Newport, Bristol, Newcastle upon Tyne, Stoke on Trent, Leicester, Sheffield, Derby, Southampton and Nottingham.[2]

The National Association of British Arabs categorises Sudan-born immigrants as Arabs. Based on census data, it indicates that they are the eighth largest population of British Arabs by country of birth.[6]

Culture and community[edit]

Numerous community groups and organisations have been established across the UK that cater for the country's Sudanese community, from political organisations and trade unions to refugee organisations and other social and community groups.[2] Some groups conform to and are generally based around Sudanese political parties and professional bodies such as the Umma Party and the Sudanese Doctors' Union.[2] The Sudan Human Rights Organisation and the Sudan Organisation Against Torture are two national non-political organisations that have been set up by Sudanese in exile in the UK, and there are also refugee groups that have been set up across the UK to help new immigrants and asylum seekers to adapt to the British lifestyle and help with any other problems and issues.[2] Besides these bodies and entities, there are a number of less informal social and culture groups that have been set up by Sudanese in the UK (examples of these are the Sudanese Family in Oxfordshire,[7] Leeds Sudanese Community Association,[8] and the Sudanese Coptic Association).[9] Sudanese nationals in the UK are represented by the Embassy of Sudan on Cleveland Row, London, England.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "British Sudanese defends teacher". BBC News. 1 December 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Sudan: Mapping exercise" (PDF). London: International Organization for Migration. July 2006. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Immigration and Asylum Statistics". Home Office. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Timeline: Sudan". BBC News. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "REPORT ON THE 2011 CENSUS – MAY 2013 – Arabs and Arab League Population in the UK – Appendix 6 – Countries of Birth of UK Arabs". National Association of British Arabs. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Sudanese Family in Oxfordshire". Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Organisation details – Leeds Sudanese Community Association". Yorkshire and Humber Regional Migration Partnership. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Refugees into HE project: Project partners". University of Brighton. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  10. ^ "Embassy of Sudan in London". Retrieved 5 July 2010.