VANCOUVER — A Vancouver Island mother fears her four missing children are in the same region where hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing.
Alison Azer’s children were allegedly abducted by her ex-husband overseas a month ago and she believes they could now be in the Middle East.
The Canadian government needs to do more to bring them home, Azer says.
“I’m a Canadian citizen. My children are Canadian citizens. We need the Canadian government to locate them and bring them back,” she says.
“After one month, I certainly expected more from my own government.”
The four children were legally allowed to travel to France and Germany with their father in early August, but the group did not return as scheduled.
Interpol lists the children — Sharvahn, 11, Rojevahn, 9, Dersim, 7, and Meitan, 3 — as missing on its website.
A Canada-wide warrant for Saren Azer, who is also known as Salahaddin Mahmudi-Azer, was issued on Aug. 24 for abduction in contravention of a custody order.
He is a well-known Canadian doctor of Iranian descent who has spoken publicly about volunteering medical care for refugees in Iraq and humanitarian aid to Syria.
Alison Azer believes her ex-husband took their children to the Middle East, likely northern Iraq, where ongoing conflicts with Islamic State fighters have forced many people from their homes.
“They’re coming out. My kids were taken back in,” she says.
The concerned mother says she hasn’t heard anything from the authorities about possible sightings or leads in the investigation.
“I really do need to see more in terms of progress. I need to see some proof that we’re closer than we were a month ago.”
Azer recently travelled from her home in B.C.’s Comox Valley to Ottawa to meet with officials and Lynne Yelich, the minister of state for foreign affairs, to talk about her missing children.
It’s important for her to see the faces of people working on the case and have them hear her story, she says.
“It does matter that this is not a file number, that these aren’t empty faces,” Azer says. “These are the faces of my four beloved children. I need people to feel for them as my beloved children.”
Her meeting with Yelich lasted about 45 minutes, and Azer feels like her story resonated, but she believes there’s more that could be done.
“Somebody has to say loud and proud ‘We accept responsibility and we’re going to make this right for that mom and those kids,'” she says.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press