Hague Convention ruling leaves Derry mother stranded

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A Derry mother and child stranded thousands of miles from home have made an appeal to the public for help.

The woman was compelled by court order to return her toddler to that country.

Sarah and her child - not her real name as neither she nor her child can be identified for legal reasons - are currently homeless as they wait for legal proceedings to begin.

The woman, who has been told that she is not entitled to benefits or free legal aid, is not allowed to work and her savings have run out.

The woman’s family have said that they have no choice but to appeal to the public for help as she faces huge fees in her legal battle.

Foyle Women’s Aid has now set up a special bank account and is appealing for urgent donations to the Appeal fund.

“Sarah is very vulnerable with little to no resources for herself and her child. She is far away from home, alone, scared and without resources she needs to fight her case, get justice and come back home,” said Women’s Aid director Marie Brown.

Her child’s father took her to court under The Hague Convention and an order was made compelling her to return the child to the country they had fled.

Marie Brown insisted, “The Hague Convention is outdated and does not take into account the woman’s circumstances and fears. How is it right to leave a family so vulnerable?

“We campaigned over 10 years ago for this law to change with the Cara Gunn case and here we are with another woman and child in the similar position. The reaction of the public was overwhelming the last time and we hope that people will find it in their hearts to respond similarly to this woman’s plight,” she said.

Sarah’s family, who are very concerned for her safety, have exhausted their savings getting her legal help abroad.

“We find it hard to believe that a woman would end up having to return to a country where she has nowhere to live, is not allowed to work and gets no free legal aid - to fight for the most important thing in her life - her child,” a family spokesperson said.

They added that Sarah’s child was born here Derry after a short relationship between Sarah and his father, who are not married.

Sarah has spent recent weeks trying to find suitable accommodation and support, but with little success. “I have never felt so vulnerable in my entire life. It’s awful. Trying to look after a wee child in these circumstances is a nightmare,” she said in a recent email to Foyle Women’s Aid.

Support for Sarah Appeal Sort Code: 950676 Account Number: 30006513