‘I’m Dead Inside’: Read The Anguished Story Of Mother Of 6-Year-Old Boy Refused Entry To UK After Holiday
The mother of a British-born boy who has been blocked from returning to the UK following a holiday has said being unable to see her child has left her feeling “dead inside”.
Six-year-old Mohamed Bangoura was left stranded in Brussels on Sunday after he was prevented from boarding a flight from Zaventem airport to Manchester under Home Office orders.
Hawa Keita, 29, who is of Guinean origin and lives in Sheffield, told The Independent she was “completely shocked” when she heard. She denied Home Office claims that she received a letter in March stating her son’s passport had been revoked.
Critics have branded the case “truly shocking” and said the act of blocking a UK-born child from returning home was “shameful” and “exactly one of the effects” of the government’s hostile environment policy.
The boy is currently staying in Brussels with friends of his mother. Ms Keita is in the UK and unable to travel because she was residing in the country based on her son’s British citizenship.
Speaking three days after her son was prevented from returning home, Ms Keita said: “When my friend told me what had happened from the airport, I couldn’t believe it. I was very… dead inside. I can’t explain the feeling. It was very difficult.
“I never received a letter. I called them about the problem on Sunday and they sent me it in an email. I’m not crazy enough to send my son out of the country when I know he doesn’t have a passport.”
“My son’s friends in Brussels have gone back to school. This morning when I spoke to him he told me ‘my friends are going to school why can’t I go to school?’
“I can’t explain it to him – he’s so young. I feel so bad. I can’t do anything for my son to see me. I really miss him. I can’t believe it. I keep thinking it must be a dream.”
The Home Office letter, which is dated March 2018 but which Ms Keita said she received for the first time in email on Sunday, states that the child’s claim to British citizenship was no longer valid because it had “come to light” that the man she was married to at the time of his birth was not settled in Britain.
But Ms Keita said that this man was her Guinea-based ex-husband whom she was in the process of divorcing. She explained that she had moved to the UK and was living with another partner; a British man and the father of Mohamed.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told The Independent it was “almost beyond belief” that the government would preside over a system which blocks a six-year old born here from returning home.
“We have ministers telling us they are sorting out the Windrush scandal, and their hostile environment isn’t to blame. But this shows their reassurances are worthless,” she added.
Amnesty International’s head of advocacy, Allan Hogarth, meanwhile said: “The refusal to allow six-year-old Mohamed Bangoura to return home to his mother is a deeply disturbing and shameful move by the Home Office.
“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.”
In response, a Home Office spokesperson 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 last Sunday was unable to re-enter as he did not hold a valid passport.
“The immigration minister has asked officials to urgently look into all available options in this case to reunite Mohamed with his mother.”