A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for a Vancouver Island man who failed to bring his four children home to his ex-wife following a European trip.
The children — daughters Rojevahn, 9, and Sharvahn, 11, and sons Meitan, 3, and Dersim, 7 — had been travelling in Germany with their father, Saren Azer, and were supposed to return last Friday.
But the mother, Alison Azer, said she hasn't heard anything from them for 12 days.
"I'm living a nightmare," Azer said. "I just felt something in their voices. It didn't sound right. I asked them to call me and I have never heard from them again."
Alison and Saren Azer separated three years ago. He was legally permitted to leave the country with his children, but was required by a custody order to return home by Aug. 21.
Saren Azer, an ethnic Kurd also known as Salahaddin Mahmudi-Azer, is a well-known Comox doctor of Kurdish extraction. He has travelled frequently to northern Iraq for humanitarian work.
His ex-wife's greatest fear is that he has taken their children there.
"I am so scared for my children and I have been so scared for three years," she said.
Azer is a prominent figure in the humanitarian sector, and has also been featured in a promotional video from the Prime Minister's Office.
Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney tweeted about meeting Azer back in March.
Met Dr Saren Azer,who's doing tremendous work w/ Canada's Kurdish community et al to supply medications to Iraqi IDPs pic.twitter.com/8qCeLZAYsl— @jkenney
Interpol now involved
Comox Valley RCMP obtained the Canada-wide warrant for Azer's arrest on charges of abduction in contravention of a custody order.
"We understand how difficult this situation is for the children's mother and others in the community," said Cpl. Darren Lagan in a statement.
According to Lagan, local, provincial and federal RCMP officers in Canada and abroad have been working together to restrict further international travel by Azer and the children.
RCMP have also been communicating extensively with Interpol, which has listed all four children as missing on its website.
"The safety and security of Canadian children, both at home and abroad, is of the utmost importance to the RCMP, and we will continue our efforts to locate and safely return these children to British Columbia," said Lagan.
'I am desperate'
Alison Azer is using social media to get attention and raise money for legal fees. At the time of writing, she had raised more than $28,000.
"I feel so honoured … to receive this support. I would never, never, never wish this on anyone," she said. "I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't breathe. I am desperate to hear from my children."
Anyone with any information about the whereabouts of Saren Azer and-or his four children is asked to contact local police, or the Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321.