An Ottawa man who has been struggling for years to bring his niece and nephew from Uganda to Canada says he won't give up, despite a serious setback.

Gabriel Mangar — himself one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan who were displaced during that country's civil war — came to Canada as a refugee nearly a decade ago. 

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Gabriel Mangar has been trying to get Monica, 12, and Joseph, 16, to Canada since he discovered in 2007 that they were still alive after fleeing Sudan. (CBC)

His sister and two of her children died fleeing the conflict in what was then Southern Sudan, but in 2007 he discovered her two remaining children had turned up in a refugee camp in Uganda.

Mangar has been paying for the care of 12-year-old Monica and her 16-year-old brother Joseph ever since, sending money for their food, shelter and school.

But Citizenship and Immigration of Canada turned down Mangar's sponsorship application because he doesn't meet the minimum household income requirement of $34,000 dollars a year.

Mangar, who was badly wounded as a child soldier, now collects disability support payments, and his income doesn't come close to the minimum requirement.

His lawyer, Luis Alberto Vasquez, said Citizenship and Immigration Canada's policy discriminates against people in Mangar's position.

"He is automatically excluded from the sponsorship process," said Vasquez. "Effectively Mr. Mangar is being discriminated against because of his disability, and it's thinly-veiled behind income ineligibility."

The CIC income requirement is set to ensure sponsors can provide the basic requirements for family members — including food, clothing, utilities, shelter, fuel and household supplies — without having to apply for social assistance, according to spokesman Paul Northcott.

Should Mangar's income situation change, Northcott said he would be able to reapply.

The appeals process, however, could take years, creating a new problem for Mangar, since in two years his nephew Joseph turns 18 and will no longer qualify for child sponsorship.