Mohanad's Story - Refugee Council

Mohanad’s Story

To mark the start of Refugee Week 2023, Mohanad, who has lived experience of the asylum system, describes how a more compassionate approach—cutting long waiting times and helping refugees to access education and training—would be better for all of us.

My name is Mohanad and I’m from Sudan.

Refugees come here because they don’t have a choice. If you help asylum seekers to get an education, they help themselves and the community. They contribute and improve the economy. If you deal with asylum seekers in a better way, it is better for everybody.

My message is that the waiting time in the asylum system is long—too long! I was waiting for more than one year. We need to cut long waiting times, and allow refugees to get training and education so they can work.

People are forced to leave Sudan because of war, because of genocide, because of ethnic persecution. People have heard about the war now, but they don’t realise how bad it was before.

What’s happening now in Sudan is heart-breaking, and we are losing hope. At first I thought I would go back to my country, but now the war is in the capital of Sudan, I don’t think they will make it safe. Myself and all Sudanese, we were hoping for freedom and democracy. Now we just hope for safety, food and water. The situation has gone from bad to worse.

If you deal with asylum seekers in a better way, it is better for everybody.

My journey was horrific… I can’t explain it all. I had no idea what I was going to face. I came through the desert to Libya, there was no life there. Everywhere we moved, someone would die. Moving between cities in Libya was impossible. Trying to cross the sea, it was a terrible and deadly journey. People were being killed. In France, many refugees are homeless, sleeping on the street, they can’t even eat, and they face harassment from the police as well as the public.

When I arrived in the UK, it was emotional. I had been travelling for three years. I even cried when I got a room, because I had been living without a bed for three years, just a floor, because of my difficult journey.

Many British people are really amazing. I’m very grateful. Sometimes I experience racism, but most people here are open-minded. I still miss my home. If there was a choice, I would go back, but there’s no choice. I’m really thankful to be here. Here I really feel safe.

I’m applying to continue my studies now, and I’ve been accepted onto an Access to Medicine course. I hope I will now be able to complete my education. ■

Mohanad is a refugee from Sudan, currently living in Yorkshire. He is applying to continue his studies, and volunteering with the Refugee Council. Refugee Week is from 19-25 June 2023.