THIS weekend Heyam Srour should have been reuniting with the daughters she has not seen for four years after war, illness and red tape pulled her family apart.

Two weeks ago, the Sunday National told how the Syrian refugees had all been living in Lebanon until the UN elected to bring Heyam to Scotland for urgent cancer treatment.

The mother-of-six has ovarian cancer and though the family had used all their savings and sold their possessions to fund her care in Lebanon, it was not enough.

The 53-year-old came here with husband Abdo Al Salahani and youngest daughter Sara on the grounds that the rest of their family would follow.

Only one other daughter, Duaa, has since been allowed by the Home Office to join her parents here, with the others stuck in a lengthy visa battle that turned desperate after doctors said Heyam’s condition had become terminal.

It’s thought that the Clydebank woman has just three months to live.

And while a court ruled her daughters Noura and Lina Al Salahani should be allowed to settle in Scotland with their husbands and six children, officials had failed to give them the visas they needed – and continued to fight against doing the same for Heyam’s other daughters Douniya and Diana.

“I love my children,” Heyam said, “I’m just praying I get to see them before I die.”

After the family’s ordeal was revealed in the Sunday National, the UK Government finally ruled it would allow all four sisters to rejoin their mother in her final days.

Noura and Lina were to travel first, followed by their siblings.

The two women were set to fly to Glasgow Airport on Friday, arriving on the Islamic holy day of Eid for the reunion Heyam has been praying for.

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But that all fell apart after they were issued visas with expiry dates of 2019, voiding their travel plans.

The useless documents were issued at the UK Visa Application Centre in Beirut, which is run on behalf of the Westminster government by private operator TLScontact.

After an intervention by their solicitor, these will be changed within a fortnight, but the flight change has cost the family a three-figure sum per person and caused Heyam further stress and heartache.

“I have been in despair,” she says. “Every day that passes goes from my remaining days.”

Solicitor Euan MacKay, of Glasgow practice McGlashan MacKay, said he was “delighted” that the Home Office will now allow the family to reunite but “an administrative error at this stage really adds insult to injury”.

‘‘We can only hope that the Home Office issues the other family visas as a matter of urgency, given the tragic circumstances.”

West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, who represents the family, hit out at the bureaucratic blunder. “These developments are very concerning and a heartbreaking situation has gotten even worse,” he said.

“From day one it would appear that this case has been bungled with visas being delayed and refused despite the desperate circumstances.

“I can only imagine the suffering and despair that the family are going through.

“Serious questions needs to be answered by the Home Office on this and I will be writing to the Home Secretary demanding answers.

‘‘I will also call for the Home Office to cover the additional costs that the family are facing through no fault of their own with the blame lying firmly at the door of the Home Office.

“It has been common knowledge that the UK visa system is not fit for purpose and this sad episode only highlights this further.”

The Sunday National asked the Home Office if it will compensate the family, fast-track visas for the remaining members and issue an apology.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We sympathise with the family at this difficult time.

“The Home Office recognises the exceptional circumstances in this case and we have made every effort to rectify an unfortunate system error as rapidly as possible.

“We are in contact with the family as well as their local MP.”

Heyam was a stay-at-home mum and Abdo a chef before they had to flee Syria.

As many as 1.5 million of their compatriots have made the same journey across the border to Lebanon in search of safety.

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The concentration of refugees there – 30% – is the highest per capita in the world and has put the country’s systems under strain, leaving many Syrians unable to access employment, healthcare and decent housing and even send their children to school.

None of Heyam and Abdo’s grandchildren are currently able to attend classes, something which pains the family.

The UK Government pledged to bring 20,000 Syrians to live in the UK under the UN resettlement scheme by 2020.

‘‘Those given priority include people with “special medical needs or disabilities” and those with “family links to the UK”.

The initiative was launched under David Cameron in 2014 and it had been hoped that the goal would have been achieved by spring this year. As of May, the total so far stood at 19,768. The programme is said to have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Heyam told officials she didn’t want to leave without her daughters but agreed when she was told they’d help her to bring them here. “I was desperate,” she said.

“As soon as we arrived, we started making enquiries on how to allow our daughters to come and join us in the UK. We applied through the UN, however, to date, we have not received any response.

“Before the war we were a happy, close family. Lebanon was not paradise, but at least we were together.

“If I knew that the rest of my family wouldn’t join me, I would have never come to the UK, I would have stayed there. I don’t know any parent who wouldn’t want to stay with their children. I’m really, really struggling without them.”