A desperate mother has told of her agonising 15-month wait for a decision from the Home Office on whether she can bring her remaining family from war-torn Sudan to Scotland after losing three children amid the conflict.
Kaltouma Haroun Ibrahim, 43, who lives in Glasgow and is a valued member of the community at Gorbals Parish Church, was granted leave to remain status in 2019, giving her the right to live and work in the UK.
She has not seen her husband Hassan, her son Nassar, 18, or daughter Awadiya, 14, since they were separated nearly ten years ago, and is growing increasingly concerned about their safety in Sudan.
Mrs Ibrahim believes people “are dying every day” in the region due to continued fighting between two rival groups, and is urging the Home Office to make a decision that could finally reunite her family.
Her lawyer submitted paperwork to officials about 15 months ago to bring them all to Scotland under a UK Government policy on family reunion, but has yet to receive confirmation they can join her.
Mrs Ibrahim said: “Sudan is a very dangerous place and I am very afraid for my family.
“I have already lost three children and I need my other two and my husband here with me in Glasgow where it is safe.”
Sudan became independent of the UK in 1956 and the country has been gripped by civil war for the majority of years since.
The latest conflict broke out in April when the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces began fighting around the capital city Khartoum and the Darfur region.
Thousands of people have died with millions more displaced, but despite the North African country’s 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, where she met her Sudanese husband, but the couple were forced to flee the country after his life was repeatedly threatened.
They moved to neighbouring Sudan but civil war forced the family to move again to Libya in 2014, where they secured passage on a boat bound for Italy across the Mediterranean Sea.
The vessel sank shortly after departure and two of the couple’s young children drowned.
The survivors reached the shore but Mrs Ibrahim became separated from her husband and three surviving children after she was taken to hospital in Libya.
She was unable to find them after she was discharged and eventually returned to Chad, where she thought she would be safe.
The country was then terrorised by Boko Haram, a violent Islamist militant group, and Mrs Ibrahim was beaten and tortured by people looking for her husband.
Friends paid for her to escape to France and then London in 2016 to claim asylum. She moved to Glasgow the following year and secured refugee status and a residence permit in 2019.
Mrs Ibrahim finally managed to track down her husband and teenage children in Khartoum, but her daughter Safa, 13, was shot and killed during a robbery near her home in the city four months ago.
Mrs Ibrahim said: “There is a lot of looting and violence, people come into your house and attack you.
“Every day there is fighting and people die.”
As well as playing an active volunteer role at Gorbals Parish Church, Mrs Ibrahim is studying at Anniesland College to improve her English and also works part-time with disabled children for Glasgow City Council.
Catriona Milligan, a community development worker at the church, said of Mrs Ibrahim: “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?”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules.”
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