Dubai: After a long wait, Maleha Haq finally got her ICA approval on Tuesday. But the Pakistani mum, who has been stranded in Islamabad for the past few months, can’t travel to her Dubai home within the stipulated 21-day deadline or any time soon for that matter as her newborn doesn’t have a valid permit to enter the country.
Hundreds of UAE-based new mums stuck overseas are faced with a similar predicament as issuance of entry visas remains suspended in the country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
“I cannot bring my son along with me to Dubai where his father is dying to see him. I am sure this is not the idea of reuniting families,” said Maleha who travelled alone to Pakistan in early January to deliver her first child. “Does the ICA approval suggest that I fly back to my husband in Dubai, but leave my three-month old son behind?” she asked.
Briton Tina Hamilton, who is stranded in the United Kingdom since the birth of her first child in March, said she had no clue how and when she could return to the UAE with her newborn.
“There’s no official information or guidance to address the plight of new mums like us. My husband is in Dubai. He was already devastated to have missed the birth of our first baby and now he has to wait endlessly to hold his little girl. My first ICA application was rejected without reason while the second is awaiting approval since May 22. There is no way for ICA to know that I have a newborn as this cannot be mentioned on the application or linked to my residency because my daughter’s visa is yet to be issued. It’s very frustrating. I’m trying to stay strong for my baby, but it’s getting harder each day. This is an extremely difficult situation mentally and emotionally for many people as it’s tearing families apart during a time when they are supposed to be together,” said Hamilton. “It’s Father’s Day on June 21. What a lovely gift it would be if families could be reunited before that,” she added.
Sally Shaheen from Egypt, who travelled to Cairo to give birth to her second child, also urged the authorities to consider the cases of new mums on humanitarian grounds. “My son Yassin was born in December 2019. We got an entry permit for him in February. My three-year-old daughter Nadia and I were due fly back with him to Dubai in March, but as luck would have it, all new entry permits were cancelled and immigration authorities in Cairo didn’t let him board the flight. We had to come back from the airport,” she said.
Her husband Murad, who is in Dubai, said they are in a Catch 22 Situation. “My wife and daughter got their ICA approval on June 14, but it’s pointless as they can’t come without my son,” said Murad who’s been away from his family for more than six months.
Sally said newborns with or without entry permit should be allowed to return to the UAE if they are accompanied by their mother.
“Our little ones have every right to be with their fathers,” said an Indian woman who was due to return with her child on April 1.
Yet another new mum, Zainab Taimoor, who delivered a baby boy in Pakistan on April 4, said she flew out of the UAE with her three-year-old daughter on March 14, hoping to return by mid-May.
“Now we can’t travel without ICA approval. My daughter and I got our approvals on June 15. It’s valid for 21 days, but we can’t travel within this time as we are unlikely to get an approval for our infant as he doesn’t have a UAE residency permit,” she said.
Abu Dhabi-based expatriate Zeeshan, who can’t fly with his two-month-old daughter Minsa from Pakistan since she is not eligible for the mandatory ICA approval, said he is at his wit’s end.
His wife Dr Zahira Tahir travelled to Faislabad for work, but got stuck. “Our first child was born in Pakistan with Asymmetrical IUGR (a condition in which the baby has a normal-sized head and brain, but the rest of the body is small). My wife managed everything on her own. I was very happy when she got her ICA approval, but our joy quickly dissipated when we found out that a similar approval was needed for my child,” said Zeeshan.