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Six-year-old stranded in Belgium returns to UK

28th Sep 2018

Nadine Osman

A British boy stranded in Belgium after the Home Office revoked his passport has returned home after being given an emergency travel document.

Mohamed Bangoura jetted into Manchester to be reunited with his (Guinean national) mother Hawa Keitaa on September 10 before travelling back to their home in Sheffield, where the youngster was due to start school.

The six-year-old had been spending the summer holidays with family friends in Brussels but was prevented from boarding a plane back to the UK on September 2.

His passport had been revoked by the Home Office, leaving the youngster unable to return home. Mohamed was denied passage to the UK, the Home Office had said: “A letter was sent to Mohamed’s mother in March advising her that her son’s passport had been revoked.

“We understand that, despite this, Mohamed was taken out of the UK in July and ….was unable to re-enter as he did not hold a valid passport.“We have now contacted Mohamed’s mother to inform her that her son is being issued with emergency travel documents to allow him to travel to the UK.”

However, Keita says she only received the letter when it was emailed to her after Mohamed was prevented from flying home. Mohamed’s claim to British citizenship had been in doubt because neither Keita nor her husband were settled in Britain when he was born.

Since 1983, children born in the UK are only eligible for British citizenship if at least one of their parents is a British citizen or is living in the UK with permission to remain permanently. Because of her nationality, Keita could not travel to Belgium to be with Mohamed because it would have required another visa.

Amnesty International’s Head of Advocacy, Allan Hogarth, told The Muslim News the Home Office’s initial refusal to allow the child to return to his mother was “deeply disturbing and shameful move”.

“Children across the UK are suffering from the harmful effects of the UK’s hostile immigration system.

An estimated 120,000 are currently stuck in limbo, denied their right to citizenship and facing unaffordable and profit-making fees. We urge the Home Office to allow Mohamed to return home to his mother and urgently review its child citizenship policies and fees.”

Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, said the case is “truly shocking”, while Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, accused the Home Office of “stranding a young child in a foreign country”.

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