An Oldham woman whose husband is stuck in Gaza has received some good news about his visa but has been left worrying as internet and phone lines in the area were cut off over the weekend.

Afshan Abubakar says she is suffering from sleep deprivation, having trouble eating, and her eyes have ‘gone black’ due to the stress of the situation in Gaza.

She described the telecommunications blackout as ‘traumatising’.

Last week, Afshan, who lives in Glodwick, spoke to The Oldham Times about her husband, Hani, who is stuck in north Gaza.

According to the Gaza health ministry, the death toll in the strip was at around 7,700 as of Saturday.

The latest fighting began following an attack by Hamas earlier this month, which left more than 1,000 Israelis dead.

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Afshan, who met her husband while she volunteered for a group which taught English to Gazan children, said she was having issues getting a visa approved for Hani, who is considered her fiance by the UK government as their marriage is not recognised.

The couple began their visa application on September 20, more than two weeks before the Hamas attack which started the current outbreak of war.

Hani’s visa approved

Now, the Government has confirmed that Hani’s visa has been approved – but due to the bombardment it is unable to return his passport to him, essential for if he wants to get out.

According to an email to Afshan from a member of staff at UK Visas and Immigration, Hani’s passport is currently ‘securely stored’ at the British Embassy in Amman, the capital of Jordan.

However, the agency says it is "not possible to return passports to customers in Gaza" due to the "ongoing conflict".

The agency says it is unable to provide any further information about when they might be able to deliver his passport in the future.

Afshan thanked staff at Oldham law firm Equity Law Chambers for helping and supporting her with the visa process, which had left her confused at times.

Afshan added: “Unless we have a ceasefire, I don’t see any way of my husband getting out safely.”

Stuck in north Gaza

According to reporting by Reuters, leaflets marked with the Israel Defence Forces name and logo were dropped earlier this month, telling people anyone in north Gaza could be considered sympathisers with a ‘terrorist organisation’ if they stayed put.

Hani is currently sheltering at a UN building in north Gaza, after his flat was bombed.

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Afshan says Hani is still in the north due to the difficulties of the war. North Gaza has a population of around 1.1 million people.

Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General said it considered it “impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences”.

She added: “They did say that anyone who’s still in north Gaza, they’ll see them as a terrorist, so they have to move to south Gaza.

“I’m upset and stressed, my husband couldn’t travel to south Gaza because of the heavy bombings, and the buildings and infrastructure falling.

“No food, no energy, no water. He’s fasting as it is, and if the IDF soldiers do the ground invasion, they’ll shoot anyone in their way.

“As a Muslim, we have to trust in God’s plans and we have to stay optimistic. I’m trying to keep that faith going. I’m hoping for a ceasefire, to be honest. Unless we can have a ceasefire, nothing can happen.”

Another student dead

As well as the stress of Hani’s situation, Afshan has now found out another one of her pupils has been killed in the war.

Ahmed Ramzi Temraz, aged 13, was said to be killed alongside his mother and sister – the second of Afshan’s pupils to be killed in weeks, following the death of pupil Mohammad El Ramlawy earlier this month.

Now another of her pupils, named Eisa, has told her he ‘just wants to die’ after Afshan told him of the death of Mohammad.

She said: “He said to me he just wants to die now. He said I don’t want to learn English anymore, I don’t even like English anymore.

“I don’t blame him for saying that because obviously the UK is not helping the ceasefire, so these kids have got all sorts of emotions going.

“I’m in touch with a few of the parents as well and they’ve all told me they’ve lost family members. Ahmed died alongside his mum and sister. It’s beyond heartbreaking. I feel mentally and physically exhausted, I’m tired.”