A mother, currently living in Sheffield, has said said being unable to see her son has left her feeling ‘dead inside’ after he was refused entry into the UK.
Six-year-old Mohamed Bangoura, who was born in Britain, was left stranded in Brussels on Sunday after he was prevented from boarding his flight home from Zaventem airport under Home Office orders.
His mother, Hawa Keita, 29, who is of Guinean origin and lives in Sheffield said she was “completely shocked” when she heard the news.
The Star understands Mohamed was due to go back to school next week, and has been left devastated at the thought not going back with his school friends.
The Home Office claim that Ms Keita received a letter in March stating her son’s passport had been revoked, to which she denies.
The case has been branded “truly shocking” by critics, as others have questioned why he was allowed to travel in the first place, as his passport had been revoked three months earlier.
Mohamed is currently staying in Brussels with family friends whilst Ms Keita is stuck in the UK.
She is unable to travel as she was residing in the country based on her son’s British citizenship, so if she leaves neither will be able to return.
Speaking to the Independent 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 was sent in March 2018 but Ms Keita said she never received it and only saw it for the first time on Sunday after she contacted officials.
The letter said that Mohamed did not qualify for British citizenship because the Ms. Keita was still married to her Guinea-based estranged husband at the time of his birth and was not settled in Britain.
But Ms Keita said she was in the process of a divorce, and that she had moved to the UK and was living with another partner.
However, the Home Office said that Ms Keita’s marriage meant that under British law, Mohammed could only qualify for citizenship through her or her husband and not the biological father Mr Bangoura, who lives in Leeds.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said 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.
The Home Office say that despite the letter, Mohamed was taken out the UK in July and 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
Ms Keita said of the minister’s involvement: “I really hope that this can reunite me with Mohamed.”