- GoGetFunding / Mohamed Ismail & Facebook / Taufik Batisah
Former Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah has gone online to appeal for donations to secure the safe return of his Singapore-born two-year-old niece, who he says is “trapped” in Lebanon after being forcefully taken from her mother.
In a video posted on his Facebook page on Monday (June 3), Taufik said his niece Hana was forcefully taken away from her mother and his cousin, Nur, by the father’s family during a visit to Lebanon in 2017.
Nur had taken the baby to Lebanon on the request of Hana’s father, who is native Lebanese, Taufik said. He added that the baby’s father is believed to be in Australia.
After the baby was taken from her, Nur had “no choice” but to flee from the country with her son, leaving her daughter behind due to safety reasons, Taufik said.
After a year, a successful court ruling allowed Nur to go back to Lebanon to reunite with Hana, he said.
However, the “joy was short-lived”, he said.
“Her (Hana’s) father’s family in Lebanon managed to convince the authorities to issue multiple travel bans on baby Hana, effectively detaining her in the country,” Taufik said.
According to him, his family has gone through a slew of “arduous” legal processes, while “fresh accusations were fabricated to prevent them from leaving the country”. The latest charge against Nur is the kidnapping of Hana, he added.
To help her, the family has “exhausted most of their finances and avenues”, he said.
In the accompanying caption, the singer said Nur’s family has now turned to crowdfunding to bring the two home.
“Any amount counts. We are also desperately seeking any form of assistance from anywhere in the world,” wrote Taufik.
Grandfather goes online to ask for help
The funding page titled “Help Bring Hana Home…” – set up on crowdfunding website GoGetFunding – was created by Mohamed Ismail, who identifies himself as Nur’s father and Hana’s grandfather.
In his appeal, Mohamed Ismail wrote that his family has already forked out over S$47,800 (US$35,000) to cover legal costs, travel expenses, accommodation, medical and other daily expenses for Nur and Hana.
He wrote: “We have exhausted our savings and resources are depleting fast. We are still facing an uphill battle in settling all the backdated bills and fees.”
“Funds are needed to contest (these) unfair travel bans imposed on a Singaporean child and for her safe return home with her mother,” he added.
He also wrote that Hana had suffered a norovirus infection due to the poor sanitation of her living environment in Lebanon. She has not had the necessary health checkups and vaccinations required due to the ordeal, he said.
The family has also reached out to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Honorary Consulate-General for Singapore in Lebanon for assistance.
At time of writing, the family’s fundraising effort has garnered nearly S$24,000 from over 800 backers – less than half of the target S$50,000 they are appealing for.
Business Insider has reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.