SHE has endured repeated visa refusals from the UK, a traumatic passage through a border crossing, and now does not know when she will see her home in Gaza again.

However, Nayrouz Qarmout, a Palestinian author and writer, is finally in Edinburgh and ready to tell her story at the capital's international book festival.

One of a dozen authors who were initially refused visas by the Home Office for the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF), Ms Qarmout says the increasing difficulty of obtaining a visa to enter the UK will put off artists and writers from coming to the country in the future.

The writer now has, after two rejections, a six month visa from the Home Office, but admits she does not know when she will be able to see her home again.

At one point, disheartened by the conditions at the Egyptian border security at the Rafah Border Crossing, she considered returning home, before deciding to persist in her journey to Scotland.

Now she is to appear at new event - due to two visa refusals, she missed her originally scheduled event - at the EIBF today (Thursday).

Speaking through an interpreter to The Herald, she said: "I did not expect it to be this difficult, because three years ago I did obtain a visa, and my circumstances haven't changed in those three years.

"The reason it was rejected the second time [this year] is that I am single - I found this very offensive and extremely discriminatory.

"I had to explain the whole political circumstance of the whole region to just get a visa for myself - it is so complicated and they made it so difficult.

"I was advised to have a good amount of money in my account, to have a better chance of getting a visa, and then that was used against me in the rejection: 'what is the source of this money?' It was endless."

Ms Qarmout travelled by bus from her home to the Rafah Border Crossing this week, and had to wait for three hours to get to the Egyptian side.

There, she stayed over night in what she said were difficult and unpleasant conditions - travellers sleeping on the floor, broken bathrooms, and people being not allowed to travel further - before being allowed to proceed to Cairo, and then take a flight to the UK.

Born in Damascus in 1984 as a Palestinian refugee, Qarmout returned to the Gaza Strip, as part of the 1994 Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, where she now lives.

She graduated from al-Azhar University in Gaza with a degree in economics and currently works in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

Her political, social and literary articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, and online and has also written screenplays for several short films dealing with women’s rights.

She said she fears that the Home Office's apparent clampdown on visas for artists and writers, as noted by festival director Nick Barley, will put off others from travelling to the UK at all.

She added: "I think that the UK's attitude towards immigration has changed in general.

"You think: is it worth applying, is it worth the effort, the physical effort, the mental effort? It might make you hesitant to apply for a visa and attend any festivals where all these difficulties are involved.

"But I wanted to show my appreciation to all the people that had made such an effort to get me out."

The writer added: "Maybe now I don't have a chance to get back to my country.

"They said when I was at the Rafah [Border] crossing, how difficult it was to get back into Gaza.

"So maybe I won't be able to get back in a short time. I hope I will."

Her collection of stories, The Sea Cloak, is a group of 14 stories which draw from her own experiences growing up in a Syrian refugee camp, as well as her current life in Gaza.

The writer added: "It's been a long journey, very, very difficult, with a lot of difficulties."

She added that while she was on the Egyptian side of the border, she was subjected to "so much humiliation" at the border crossing, that she thought of going home.

"So many people were not getting through, and I was afraid that I would not be allowed to Cairo, but I was lucky," she said.

"[After my event] I don't know what I'm going to do. Maybe I will stay in Egypt. As a Palestinian, you don't know what is waiting for you when it comes to travel.

"You cannot plan your life, you cannot plan a week in advance, you cannot plan a day in advance."

Mr Barley has, at this festival, stated that the difficulties writers and artist have had getting visas from the Home Office have escalated in recent years.

He said: "I think it's time to speak out - this is not to with Brexit, it is to do with a wider policy of immigration in the UK, which has had this unintended consequence on cultural activity.

"Unless we're careful, it's going to affect all our cultural activity, and any international work can be damaged by this strict policy on visas."

He added: "Edinburgh's festivals are predicated on their international activity, they have to work on an international level, and unless we get this sorted out, the festivals reputations will be damaged."