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Church of Scotland
Giorgi-Kakava (1).jpg
Church of Scotland
UK News

Victory for Church as teenage orphan is told he can stay in Scotland

by Donna Birrell

The orphaned son of an asylum seeker who has lived under the threat of deportation for 10 years has been told he can stay permanently in the UK.

13-year-old Giorgi Kakava says he is delighted and very relieved that the Home Office has finally granted him the right to remain indefinitely which means he can continue living in Glasgow.

He said a "big weight" had been lifted off his shoulders but is sad and disappointed that his beloved grandmother, Ketino Baikhadze, has only been given 30-months leave to remain and could still be forced to return to Georgia, the country of their birth.

Giorgi, who arrived in the city when he was three, said: "I was very excited when I heard that I have been granted permanent residency and can continue staying here.

"It is good news because Glasgow is my home, I feel Scottish and If I got moved to Georgia it would be tough to cope without all my friends.

"But the decision is very unfair on my nan because we are very close and I do not know what I would do if she was sent away."

The Home Office decision on Giorgi's status is a victory for the Church of Scotland which has tirelessly campaigned for nearly three-and-a-half years to ensure that he and his grandmother were not removed from their home against their will.

Giorgi and his mother, Sopio Baikhadze, fled to Glasgow in 2011 because she feared that gangsters whom her late husband owed a debt to, would either kill him or sell him to sex traffickers. The 35-year-old was awaiting the outcome of an appeal for asylum when she passed away after a long illness in early 2018. 

Rev Brian Casey, minister of Springburn Parish Church, conducted her funeral and said it was her dying wish that her son remained in Glasgow and continued to grow up a "Scottish boy".

He went on to champion the case, lobbying the UK and Scottish governments and launched an online petition which attracted 92,650 signatures.

Rev Casey says he is "delighted" that Giorgi has finally been given the chance to live the life of a normal teenager:

"It has been a long fight but it would have been criminal to send him back to a country that he doesn't know where he could be in danger. But it does seem wrong that his gran, who is his guardian, will have to go through this whole protracted process again when he is 15 and still a minor.

So, as we move forward we will have to keep an eye on that because it would be a travesty if they are split up."

Mr Casey said hospitality and welcoming the stranger is at the heart of the Christian message.

He says he could not stand idly by and risk seeing a grieving 10-year-old boy, who helped comfort and nurse his mother in her final days, being taken away from everything he knows.

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