martedì, luglio 03, 2018

 

Home Office reopens visa application of Iraqi nun denied entry to UK

By The Tablet

An Iraqi Catholic nun repeatedly denied entry into the UK where she has a sick sister has had her visa application reopened by the Home Office.
Referring to the plight of Sister Ban Madleen, a Dominican religious sister who was forced to flee Islamic State in 2014, a spokesperson for the Home Office told The Tablet on 3 July: “We have reviewed the decision and reopened this application. We are in contact with Sister Ban...to inform her of the decision and offer support and guidance on next steps.”
Following repeated queries from The Tablet, Sr Ban has been contacted by officials, informed of the decision and asked to provide additional evidence to demonstrate that she meets the UK's immigration rules.
The Catholic nun made unsuccessful applications for visas in March and April. The second application, for a month-long trip to see her sister and sister’s family, was denied last month.
Immigration officials told her that she had not provided enough evidence that she was not going to overstay her visa and attempt to live in the UK permanently. The officials also said that she had failed to demonstrate that she made a sufficient income as a school principal, and she had not shown that her community would be funding her trip. The denial letter also questioned why she had not visited the UK since 2011, when she was last granted a visa.
Fr Benedict Kiely, the founder of Nasarean.org, which helps persecuted Christians in the Middle East, had strongly criticised the Home Office decision to turn down Sr Ban’s visa application.
He told The Tablet: "This perhaps exhibits a real lack of knowledge and understanding of the conditions persecuted Christians are living under, and it appears -- at least in terms of statistics -- that there is a real lack of expertise in the Home Office when it comes to the plight of religious orders. It is incredibly demoralising."
A spokesperson for Jacob Rees-Mogg told The Tablet on Monday that the MP was aware of the situation. The Tablet learned that the senior Catholic backbencher has taken the case up with the Home Office.
Sr Ban’s convent, the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena, is in the Christian town of Qaraqosh on the Nineveh plain. It was occupied by ISIS for two years from 2014. She fled during the occupation and settled in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where she established pre-school centres.
In December 2016, three archbishops from Iraq and Syria were refused entry into the UK after being invited by the Syriac Orthodox Church to the consecration of the UK’s first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, which was attended by Prince Charles.
And in 2017, the Institute of St Anselm, comprising a group of Catholic priests and nuns in Margate, Kent, said that it had been forced to close because of problems with foreign students’ visa applications.

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