10-year-old refugee in Scotland would ‘be in danger’ if deported

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A 10-year-old asylum seeker would be in serious danger if he is deported back to the country of his birth just months after the death of his mother, it has been claimed.

Ketino Baikhadze said she fears her orphaned grandson Giorgi would be under threat in Georgia.

Sopio Baikhadze with her son Giorgi. Picture: Church of Scotland

Sopio Baikhadze with her son Giorgi. Picture: Church of Scotland

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Mrs Baikhadze’s daughter Sopio fled to Scotland seven years ago after her late husband allegedly owed money to gangsters.

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Sopio, known as Sophie, was awaiting the outcome of an appeal for asylum in the UK when she died in February after a long illness.

Ketino Baikhadze with Kirk minister, Rev Brian Casey. Picture: Cameron Brooks/Church of Scotland

Ketino Baikhadze with Kirk minister, Rev Brian Casey. Picture: Cameron Brooks/Church of Scotland

That left Mrs Baikhadze as the legal guardian of her grandson, who has lived in Glasgow since he was three.

The pair are now waiting for an initial decision on their applications for asylum.

Mrs Baikhadze said: “Giorgi doesn’t understand a word of the Georgian language.

“He only speaks English and has grown up in Glasgow where all his friends are, so it would be very hard for him to go there.

Sopio Baikhadze with her son Giorgi. Picture: Church of Scotland

Sopio Baikhadze with her son Giorgi. Picture: Church of Scotland

“Sometimes I use Georgian words and I ask him ‘why don’t you understand?’ and he says ‘because I am Scottish’.”

Mrs Baikhadze, who has lived illegally in Glasgow for 14 years, said she always intended to return to Georgia, but she decided to stay after her daughter, who was a freelance translator and spoke four languages, fell ill.

In a direct appeal to the UK Government and cross-party politicians, she said: “Please help Sophie’s family.

“Her son is a good boy and she just wanted to give him as normal a life as possible in Scotland.”

Ms Baikhadze’s funeral was held in Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow led by minister Brian Casey.

Rev Casey said the family’s story had touched many people.

He said: “He is such a happy wee boy and I could not in good conscience stand by and watch him being sent back to a country that he doesn’t know and where his life is potentially in danger.

“Giorgi is, by all intents and purposes, a Scottish boy and I would appeal to the Home Office to examine this case with love and compassion”.

Solicitor Andrew Bradley is representing the Baikhadze family.

He said: “It is difficult to imagine what Giorgi is going through.

“For many people, the grieving process takes months or years.

“While trying to recover from the loss of his mum, his future hangs in the balance.

“He faces the possibility of being taken away from his home and friends in Scotland to what must now be a strange country.

“If the Home Office saw fit to make a decision in his favour, it would no doubt be a huge weight off his mind.”

It comes as the Sunday Mail reported that a student nurse who served in the Scottish Youth Parliament and carried the Commonwealth Games baton in the lead up to Glasgow 2014 is also facing deportation.

Denzel Darku, who moved to the UK from Ghana nine years ago as a 14-year-old, is fighting to stay in Scotland having seen two appeals rejected.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and every case is assessed on its individual merits.”