THE family of a badly burned Afghan baby brought from Pakistan to Scotland for treatment have instructed lawyers to fight for him to live in his adopted country permanently.
Three-month-old Mohammad Sudais needs treatment for third-degree burns after a gas explosion in his home in Peshawar last December, which killed his parents and older brother.
Mohammad’s uncle, Mohammad Asif, who lives in Glasgow, flew to Dubai last week to meet his nephew from a connecting flight from Pakistan to bring him to Glasgow.
The baby is now in the high-dependency unit of the city’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill where he underwent a three-hour operation on Wednesday.
Doctors in Pakistan had said they could do no more for him and advised seeking treatment in Glasgow.
However, campaigners said they feared Mohammad’s six-month emergency visa could result in him being ordered to leave by the UK Home Office when it expires in August.
Last night, Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, a refugee and migrants charity which led the campaign to bring Mohammad to Scotland, said: “He is off the ventilator but remains in the high-dependency unit. [He is] otherwise stable.”
Ms Qureshi said a lawyer who specialises in immigration law had been consulted and instructed to submit an application of permanent residency on the child’s behalf. Immigration is not a devolved responsibility.
“We are now taking steps to secure Baby Mohammad’s future in Scotland instead of relying on a six-month medical visa,” said Ms Qureshi whose group raised more than £15,000 towards travel costs to bring him to Glasgow.
She added: “For the time being, everyone is rooting for Scotland’s Baby Mohammad. The child is here on a medical visa which was supported by the Scottish Government.
“But when they applied for the visa, the red tape meant they had to give a return date for him because he is an Afghan refugee.
“Based on previous experience, we expect to have to fight for him to be here.”
Dr Stuart Watson, a Glasgow-based plastic surgeon, led a team of surgeons who carried out Mohammad’s life-saving operation.
A statement on Mohammad’s official Facebook page said: “Mohammad Asif and his family are grateful for the good wishes and messages of support from members of the public for Baby Mohammad.” The charity has thanked health secretary Alex Neil; Mohammad Sarwar, former Glasgow MP and now Punjab governor; and Margaret Curran, shadow Scottish secretary and the British High Commission in Islamabad, for helping the campaign.