A Christian campaigner is calling for the government to do more to help refugees from Sudan, despite the publication of a report suggesting the number of people coming to live in the UK has hit a record high.
New data released today suggests the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving rose to 606,000 in the year to December.
That's well above the previous high of 504,000, but it's not quite as high as previously predicted – experts assumed it could be as high as 700,000.
The figure includes all those arriving to live in the UK, far beyond just those claiming asylum.
The data suggests that most of the people arriving are from Ukraine or Hong Kong.
Despite the record number of arrivals, Christian refugee campaigner Dr Krish Kandiah of The Sanctuary Foundation is calling for the government to do more to help those escaping the violence in Sudan if they have family already living in the UK – and he’s taking his plea to Downing Street.
Dr Kandiah has recently visited Egypt, where many Sudanese people have fled, and said a small minority with relatives in the UK is looking for help to join them.
On Friday, a petition will be presented to Downing Street with signatures of hundreds of Sudanese, Ukrainian and British people asking the government to extend their hospitality to Sudanese people, creating a safe and legal route for family reunification.
However, as part of their 2019 election campaign, the Conservative government pledged to clamp down on the number of people entering the UK.
Reflecting on their agenda with Premier Christian News, Dr Kandiah said: “I think that's a dead end politically, economically, and culturally.
“Migration is a net benefit to the United Kingdom. It's a net benefit to our education system - about 37 billion pounds worth of money comes into the UK each year from international students. That's approximately £500 per member.
He continued: “It's good for our economy. Overall, migrants pay more in tax, and they receive less services.
“It's good for our NHS…migrants tend to use pay more tax and use less services of the NHS. Actually, our whole NHS is dependent on people coming here to work here. So again, a net benefit.
“So a lot of the fear of migration to the UK is really ideology rather than based on evidence.”
Speaking about his plans to lobby Downing Street on the issue of family reunification for Sudanese citizens, he said: “This is a full-scale military conflict going on, not guerrilla warfare. It's jets and bombers and everything.
“There's no food in the shops or the shops have been looted. They can't even get money out of the bank because the banks have been looted. These people have often arrived with just the clothes on their backs.
“Most of them have no intention of coming to the UK.
“I think sometimes Britain is a little bit like a middle-aged man at a disco who thinks everybody wants to go out with him.
“We are not the centre of the universe.
“I only met one person that wanted to come to the UK, and that was someone who had a dad here. His dad is coming with me to Downing Street. He's desperate to be able to welcome his son to come and live with him because he can't live in Sudan. He's living as a refugee in Egypt, only living on three meals a week."
He continued: “We're saying we just want that same privilege for Sudanese people, not asking for them to put up in hotels, not even asking for loads of benefits.
“We're just asking for families here to be able to get their children and relatives to safety. And I think that's a reasonable ask.”