An MP says ‘lessons must be learned’ from the case of a six-year-old Sheffield boy who was stranded in Belgium.
Mohamed Bangoura, who lives in Upperthorpe, was stopped from boarding a flight home where his mother was waiting for him and he was due to start school.
He was eventually reunited with his mother Hawa Keita last week after the Home Office issued him with an emergency travel document following a national outcry over his plight.
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, who stepped in to help after being contacted by friends of the boy’s family, said he was glad Mohamed was now home and back at school.
But he claimed the ‘unacceptable’ episode had echoes of the Windrush scandal, in which people who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago were wrongly deported from the UK, and showed a culture change was needed within the Home Office.
“The idea that a six-year-old boy could be left stranded and separated from his mother like this is completely unacceptable," he said.
“Lessons must be learned from all this, not least why the Home Office allowed him out of the country on a passport it then refused him re-admission on.
“It’s a reflection, as was the Windrush scandal, of the ‘hostile environment’ which still exists within the Home Office and how that culture needs to be changed.
“The Government needs to throw out this idea of creating a hostile environment and adopt a sensible approach which deals sensibly and sensitively with cases based on the individual circumstances.”
Mohamed, who was born in Leeds but has been living in Sheffield for some time, had been visiting family friends in Brussels.
Mr Blomfield raised his case as an urgent point of order in parliament, while other politicians wrote to home secretary Sajid Javid calling for the youngster’s return.
The Home Office said it had written to Ms Keita, who is from Guinea, telling her Mohamed's passport had been revoked, but she claimed never to have received that letter.
The Home Office said Mohamed was only entitled to British citizenship through his mother or her husband, neither of whom had been settled in the UK when he was born.
Mr Blomfield said he would continue to support Ms Keita and her family to resolve the matter.