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Church pleads with Home Office to allow member's family into UK

by Donna Birrell

The Church of Scotland is appealing to the Home Office to allow a refugee from Sudan to bring her family to the UK.

The Church says Kaltouma Haroun Ibrahim is a valued member of the community at Gorbals Parish Church in Glasgow and has already lost three children as a consequence of conflict.

The 43-year-old was granted leave to remain status in 2019, giving her the right to live and work in the UK and has applied to bring her husband and two surviving children to live with her in the city under the UK Government policy on family reunion.

Her lawyer submitted paperwork to the Home Office about 15 months ago but a decision has yet to be made.

Mrs Ibrahim plays an active volunteer role at Gorbals Parish Church, including the weekly Community Kitchen project and lives locally in social housing.

She is currently studying to improve her English and works part-time with disabled children for Glasgow City Council.

Catriona Milligan, Community Development Worker at Gorbals Parish Church, said Mrs Ibrahim is “part of our gang” and it would mean the world to her if she was reunited with her family:

“Kaltouma escaped persecution in Sudan and Chad and has been separated from her family for many years.

“She has leave to remain in the UK, she has passed all the tests required to be a refugee and she is only asking for something that someone in her situation is entitled to – to be reunited with her immediate family in a place of safety.

“It is an utter disgrace that it has not happened already because her family are in danger on a daily basis, there is looting, violence and hunger.

“Three of her children are already dead, who can live like that?”

Mrs Milligan said she has known Mrs Ibrahim since 2019 and she started coming to Gorbals Parish Church because she wanted to be “in and about helping” the community where she lives:

“Despite all the stress and worry she has been carrying, she has not locked herself away and has made a huge effort to be part of society here.

“The Church cares about Kaltouma because God loves everybody, we are all children of God, no matter where we come from, no matter their background.

“She is our friend and someone who we love and care for, she is part of us and we feel distressed about her situation.

“She is a Muslim and we are Christian but we both believe in a God of justice and mercy and this situation calls for compassion, decency and common sense to prevail.”

Sudan became independent of the UK in 1956 and since then the country has been gripped by civil war for most of the intervening years.

The latest war broke out in April this year when the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) started fighting around Khartoum and the Darfur region.

Thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced as they flee to what they hope is relative safety.

Despite its historical links to the UK, there is no safe and legal route for Sudanese people to seek safety here.

Mrs Ibrahim was born and raised in Chad but she was forced to flee with her husband after his life was repeatedly threatened.

They moved to neighbouring Sudan but civil war forced the family to escape for their lives in 2014 and they travelled to Libya, where they secured passage on a boat bound for Italy across the Mediterranean Sea.

Tragically it sank shortly after departure and two of the couple’s children, Mohammed, 6, and Faisal, 4, drowned.

The survivors reached the shore and Mrs Ibrahim was separated from her husband and three surviving children.

Eventually Mrs Ibrahim returned to Chad and her husband and the children managed to make it back to Khartoum.

She thought she would be safe in Chad but the country is terrorised by Boko Harum, a violent Islamist militant group, and she was beaten and tortured by people looking for her husband.

Friends paid for her to escape and she managed to get to France by lorry and flew to London in December, 2016 and claimed asylum.

Mrs Ibrahim moved to Glasgow the following year and secured refugee status and a Residence Permit in 2019.

With the help of a humanitarian charity, Mrs Ibrahim managed to track down her husband and teenage children in Khartoum, but since her family reunion application was lodged with the Home Office, her 13-year-old daughter, Safa was killed in a rocket attack near her home in Khartoum.

A Home Office spokesperson told Premier:

“All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules.”



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