All former Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah wants is the safe return of his niece and cousin.
In an impassioned plea for donations on Facebook (watch below), Taufik revealed that his cousin Nur and his baby niece Hana are “currently trapped” in Lebanon and would need help to return home.
They’re looking to raise funds as they have exhausted their savings on court battles, travel, medical, accommodation and daily expenses.
Taufik explained in the video that Nur travelled with her son Imam and daughter Hana (who is Singaporean and holds a Singapore passport) to visit the latter’s grandparents in Sept 2017 upon the request of Hana’s father.
Her father is said to be a native Lebanese who the family believes is “somewhere in Australia”.
Passport went missing
According to the GoGetFunding page that Nur’s family set up, Nur discovered that Hana’s passport went missing on Sept 30.
After alerting the authorities in Lebanon and Singapore, they discovered that the father’s family had imposed a travel ban on Hana, thus prohibiting her from leaving the country.
Taufik added: “Baby Hana… was forcefully taken away from her mother by her father’s family.
“Fearing for her own, and her son’s safety, Nur had no choice but to leave Lebanon with Imam, without his sister Baby Hana.”
Mohamed Ismail, the organiser of the fundraising campaign on GoGetFunding, echoed similar sentiments.
Ismail wrote on the page: “Nur was threatened, assaulted and forced to leave Lebanon without her baby on Oct 15. She was snatched away.
“During the violent struggle, Nur suffered a permanent nerve injury.
“The (then) 8-month-old Hana was taken away and left all alone with strangers in a foreign land without being able to fend for herself.”
AsiaOne understands that Ismail is Taufik’s uncle.
Accused of kidnapping her own daughter
After a year-long “tedious court battle”, things started looking up when a Lebanese court ruling lifted the ban and awarded Nur full custody of Hana.
Nur returned to Lebanon and was reunited with Hana on Jun 12 2018. However, the father’s family levelled another charge at Nur for “kidnapping Hana”.
Apart from the reinstatement of the travel ban on Hana, it was also imposed on Nur.
Taufik said that Hana’s paternal family “convinced the Lebanese authorities to issue multiple travel bans” on Hana, hence “effectively detaining her in the country”.
“Our family has tried various means and arduous legal processes to try to bring Baby Hana and Nur back home safely.
“But each time we tried, our hopes were destroyed as fresh accusations were fabricated to prevent them from leaving the country,” added Taufik.
(Also read: 7 ways to teach your kid about stranger danger)
More than $48,000 spent on this two-year struggle
Nur’s family has spent more than USD$35,000 (S$48,000) on this ordeal with their savings and resources “depleting fast”.
As they are still facing an “uphill battle in settling all the backdated bills and fees”, they’re turning to the public (global and local) for help to bring them back.
Ismail described mother and daughter as “living in fear in the outskirts of Lebanon”.
Hana has also “missed all the necessary health check-ups and vaccinations”. She has also apparently contracted Norovirus due to the unsanitary living conditions.
Both Taufik and Ismail also mentioned that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Singapore’s Honorary Consulate-General (HCG) in Lebanon have been “alerted and updated on all events to date”.
“(Nur’s family) desperately need your support and contribution,” Taufik said.
AsiaOne has reached out to Taufik for more information.
A version of this article first appeared in Asiaone.