Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Children of 1960s refugees/asylum seekers to UK push for migrants to return to Africa

Their parents fled Africa as refugees in the 1960s. Now they want to ship migrants to Rwanda

Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister, Priti Patel, the former Home Secretary in the Johnson administration, and Suella Braverman, the current Home Secretary, all support sending refugees to the African country of Rwanda, even if they had no family ties in that East African country. In the 1960s their parents fled Africa and likely broke the then-British laws.

Last year Suella Braverman said, “I would love to have a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession.”

Britain abolished slavery in 1807 but existing slavery remained in the British Empire until 1834-1838. In effect for Indians a form of slavery remained called an indenture. Many Indians agreed to become indentured labourers to escape British-controlled India's widespread poverty and famines. Some travelled alone; others brought their families to settle in the colonies they worked in. 

Between 1834 and 1917, Britain took more than 1mn Indian indentured labourers to 19 British colonies, including Malaya, with its tin mining and rubber plantations.

In Africa, they settled in South and East Africa. Mauritius was successively a French and a British Colony during the period 1715-1968 and under British rule, Mauritius became a sugar-producing island.

White South Africa got its independence from Britain in 1961; Tanzania / Tanganyika in 1961-1964; Uganda in 1962; Keyna in 1963 and Mauritius in 1968.

Both the newly independent states in East Africa and the Republic of India did not want the Indo-African populations. Free Indian migrations in the 20th century had become elites in the countries.

The Indo-Africans were British subjects but immigration from the Commonwealth countries was becoming a political issue.

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act became law in 1962 and it imposed stringent restrictions on the entry of Commonwealth citizens into the United Kingdom. Only those with work permits (typically only for high-skilled workers, such as doctors) were permitted entry.

On April 20, 1968, in what came to be called his “Rivers of Blood” speech, Enoch Powell, a member of the Tory front bench in the House of Commons, evoked the British race question. The nationality acts, he argued, were flooding London and Midlands ghettos with Indian, Pakistani, African, and West Indian immigrants, who could claim British citizenship because of their Commonwealth status. In time the influx, he charged, would cause a bloody race war. He also called for the voluntary repatriation of these immigrants.

The 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act restricted entry only to those with a father or grandfather born in the UK. It got the Royal Assent on March 1, 1968.

In 1968 there was an estimated 345,000 Asian resident in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda.


Rishi Sunak’s paternal grandfather, Ramdas Sunak, emigrated from Punjab province (now part of Pakistan) in 1935. He became an official of the colonial administration in Keyna. His maternal grandfather, Raghubir Sain Berry MBE, also from Punjaj, worked as a tax official in Tanganyika. Yashvir and Usha Sunak, parents of Sunak were born in Kenya and Tanganyika respectively. The family fled Africa in 1966.

Yashvir, born in 1949, was enrolled in the school of medicine at the University of Liverpool.

Ramdas Sunak funded a Hindu temple in Southampton that opened in 1971.

The Sunak family was able to escape Africa, likely through connections with British officials in Nairobi and the fact that money was not a problem.

Priti Patel’s parents left Uganda in the 1960s, a few years before Idi Amin’s murderous regime.

The dictator’s brutal government waged war on ethnic minorities – killing Acholi people and Lango people; expelling 50,000 Asians who were British passport holders and seizing their property, the UK opened our borders and gave a safe home to thousands of people.

In 1972 Edward Heath, British prime minister allowed about 28,000 Ugandan Asians into the UK.

Patel's parents were well off and when she was Home Secretary she admitted that her own parents might not have been allowed into the UK under her new immigration laws.

Suella Braverman said in her maiden speech in the House of Commons in 2015, about her father, “On a cold February morning in 1968, a young man, not yet 21, stepped off a plane at Heathrow airport, nervously folding away his one-way ticket from Kenya. He had no family, no friends, and was clutching only his most valuable possession, his British passport. His homeland was in political turmoil. Kenya had kicked him out for being British. My father never returned. He made his life here in Britain, starting on the shop floor of a paint factory,” she said.

This was bullshit!

Of course, a British passport wasn't enough. The House of Commons and the House of Lords had recently passed the 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act which restricted entry only to those with a father or grandfather born in the UK.

Braverman’s father's family must have had some influence and money payment may have been involved.

Her mum was from Mauritius and she got work as a nurse in the NHS, while her father was from Kenya and he got work in a housing association. Her slogan is "Aspiration is my inspiration."


The Ukraine war has pushed the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence and persecution to over 100mn, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced last May.

This population of people represents 1% of the global population and is equivalent to the 14th most populous country in the world (Egypt: Ireland is at 122). The number includes refugees and asylum seekers as well as the 53.2mn people displaced inside their own country.

The UNHCR says a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home and cross an international border because of war, violence or persecution, often without warning. They are unable to return home unless and until conditions in their native lands are safe for them again. While an asylum seeker is someone who is also seeking international protection from dangers in his or her home country, but whose claim for refugee status hasn’t yet been determined legally.

It cites many families "escaping violence and persecution in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other countries in crisis have undertaken a dangerous journey to seek safety at the US-Mexico border. In the Central Mediterranean, many people from North Africa and the Sahel have undertaken a similarly perilous journey to reach Europe."

The UNHCR says "It is important to know that crossing a border to seek asylum is legal and protected by international law. People asking for asylum have often already tried to find safety in their country, but have encountered conditions similar to those they fled."

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford notes that Ireland (23 months) and UK (20 months) have the highest number of months to wait for an application to get an initial decision from an official.

Use the side bars to get the data

According to the European Commission, in 2021, 8.84mn non-EU citizens were employed in the EU labour market, out of 189.7mn persons aged from 20 to 64, corresponding to 4.7% of the total.

The employment rate in the EU in the working-age population is higher for EU citizens (74%), than for non-EU citizens (59.1%) in 2021.

Of course, there are issues like housing and education which suggest that economic immigration has to be monitored.

Jobs tend to be overrepresented in certain sectors.

It's also not easy to make judgements on asylum e.g. on Albanian migrants.