(SKY NEWS) — A six-year-old boy is stranded in Belgium due to a dispute with the Home Office over his passport, according to reports.
Mohamed Bangoura was born in the UK in 2012 but had been staying with family friends in Belgium during the holidays.
Mohamed was due to return home to his mother on Sunday but was stopped from travelling after Belgian officials said the Home Office had told them he could not travel to the UK.
According to The Independent, the Home Office said it sent a letter to Mohamed’s mother, Hawa Keita, to tell her that his passport had been issued in error and had since been “revoked”.
Ms Keita, who lives in Sheffield and is originally from Guinea, denied receiving the letter before her son was stopped from coming home.
The Home Office said that Mohamed’s claim to British citizenship was in doubt because neither Ms Keita or her husband were settled in Britain when he was born, according to the newspaper.
Since 1983, children born in the UK are only eligible for British citizenship if at least one of their parents is a British citizen or is living in the UK with permission to remain permanently.
According to family friend Laurent Diallo, Ms Keita’s visa to remain in the UK must be renewed every two years.
Mr Diallo said the “very difficult situation” was taking its toll on the six-year-old.
He added: “Yesterday he was very down – he didn’t want to eat.
“He loves football but he didn’t want to play football.”
He said Mohamed’s mother could not travel to Belgium to be with him because this would require another visa.
“Mohamed has always been coming to Brussels in the last three years, never had a problem, never had an issue,” he said.
“He came from the UK [for holidays].
“If he can come, I don’t see why he cannot go back.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “A letter was sent to Mohamed’s mother in March advising her that her son’s passport had been revoked.
“We understand that despite this Mohamed was taken out of the UK in July and last Sunday 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 told The Independent that Mohamed’s father is British, adding: “I never received a letter [from the Home Office].
“I called them about the problem on Sunday and they sent me an email.
“I’m not crazy enough to send my son out of the country when I know he doesn’t have a passport.”