'It's been a very special visit for me, I can assure you’
King Charles met former Sudanese refugees who escaped the Darfur genocide and told them, ‘I’m so glad you’re safe here’.
The King told those he met that it had ‘been a very special visit for me, I can assure you’ and added: “It’s been such a pleasure to meet you all – I’m so glad you’re safe here.”
Charles’ comments come as the government continues to demonise asylum seekers through divisive and inflammatory language as it seeks to push through the Illegal Migration Bill, a piece of legislation that has been widely condemned by the UN and human rights groups and which even the Home Secretary concedes more than likely breaks international law.
The civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan erupted in 2003 with the black African farming community facing persecution by the Arab militia who destroyed villages and murdered civilians
The Arab-dominated government of then-president Omar al-Bashir unleashed the Janjaweed milita, mainly recruited from Arab pastoralist tribes, who were blamed for atrocities including murder, rape, looting and burning villages. The UN estimates that 300,000 people were killed, displacing a further 2.5 million. The conflict continues today.
King Charles met people who fled the mass killings after Sudanese activist Amouna Adam invited him to meet her community when the pair met on Holocaust Memorial Day.
One of those who fled, Debay Manees, spoke to the King about the guilt he felt at having left friends in 2015 who may not have survived.
Mr Manees: “I was working as a teacher when I was targeted. I was arrested and they accused me of being a spy, I had no choice either I left or they would kill me.
“For me I feel guilty because the people I left are suffering, the mates I left in prison — the same thing is going on.”
King Charles’ visit was organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the human rights organisation Waging Peace.
Waging Peace founder, Rebecca Tinsley said: “This April marks twenty years since the start of the genocide in Darfur. It is significant that King Charles wished to meet former asylum seekers who escaped persecution in Darfur and the other marginalised Sudanese regions.
“During his visit, he heard how doctors and other professionals who found refuge in here now contribute to the NHS and the British economy. In his address to the nation last September he said he would endeavour to serve all people, whatever their background or beliefs. He is being as good as his word.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward