Red Deer family awaits immigration decision on son trapped in Afghanistan
Still from a video recording Naween Mustamandy and his grandmother sent to his family in Red Deer
The Mustamandy family of Red Deer is pleading for an expedited immigration application process for their nine-year-old son who remains with his grandmother in an area of Afghanistan with a strong Taliban presence.
“Feeling very bad and feeling nervous,” said Farid Mustamandy of his reaction to the plight of his son Naween. “We’re always thinking about him. We’re almost used to it because it’s been a long time with him there and we’re here.”
Farid and Ruoya Mustamandy, Afghani nationals who had lived in Pakistan since 1996, and their daughter were granted Protected Person Abroad Class status in 2007 to become permanent residents of Canada.
At the time the Mustamandy’s submitted their application, they were unaware that Rouya was pregnant. When the family discovered they were expecting, it was too late to update the application through the slow mail service of south Asia.
“We thought that when we came to Canada she was going to deliver the kid,” said Farid. The child had other plans and on, June 23, 2007, Naweed was born in Karachi, Pakistan.
The Mustamandys’ application to become landed residents of Canada had included several members of Farid’s extended family. Fearing an attempt to bring Naweed to Canada could potentially jeopardize the acceptance of the 10 family members named on the application, the couple made the heartbreaking decision to depart for Canada without Naween.
“It was a very bad situation in Pakistan,” recalled Farid. “I was forced by all my family. We have to go because we had a big family.”
The Mustamandys left the newborn, who was less than seven weeks old at the time, in Pakistan with his grandmother.
The family arrived in Canada on August 9, 2007 and settled in Red Deer without disclosing Naween’s birth to Canadian officials. Farid would send money to the grandmother in Pakistan a monthly basis to support his son.
“The whole family’s here but he’s not here,” said Rouya of her fractured family. “I feel so sad. I want him to be here.”
In 2010, unforeseen circumstances forced Naween and his grandmother to return to his parents’ homeland of Afghanistan and into an area of the country at the mercy of attacks by the Taliban.
“The place he is living they’re attacked on all sides from Taliban so there’s a chance they’ll attack the place where he is living too,” explained Farid. “His life is in danger right now in Afghanistan.”
The Mustamandys lived in constant fear for the safety of their son but remained unaware to the possibility of sponsoring their son for permanent residency in Canada. A friend discovered the sponsorship rules listed on the Immigration Canada website and notified the couple.
The family approached immigration lawyer Ram Sankaran late last year and a claim for humanitarian sponsorship paperwork was filed to overcome their previous failure to disclose information to Immigration Canada.
Officials with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) confirm Naween Mustmandy’s application was submitted in January of 2016 and is currently under review.
In a statement to CTV Calgary, IRCC representatives say there are unique challenges in the Mustmandy case but the application remains within the current average processing time of 13 months for a dependent child.
“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada understands that the Mustamandy family must be anxious to be reunited with their son. However, we must make sure that all immigrants meet the requirements to come to Canada, as set out in Canada’s immigration law. “
“Naween Mustamandy’s application may take time to process given its complexity: Mustamandy’s mother was pregnant at the time the family applied for permanent residence in Canada, however they did not declare him as an accompanying family member as required by law. For this reason, Mustamandy’s father was informed by IRCC that he was ineligible to sponsor him. His father wished to continue the permanent residency application, and the application was sent to the visa office in New Delhi for consideration under humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds.”
Immigration lawyer Ram Sankaran agrees the Mustamandy’s case is unique and says additional efforts should be made to ensure Naweed’s safety.
“We have a child trapped in a dangerous part of a war-torn country,” said Sankaran. “His family has already fled some of the same people that could put him at risk.”
Farid remains optimistic that the IRCC will come through and unite his family. “Hopefully they’re going to help me,” said Farid. “We want him here.”
The IRCC has not disclosed an estimated time for a decision on Naween Mustamandy’s application.
With files from CTV's Alesia Fieldberg