August 26, 2015 - 6:45 PM
COMOX VALLEY, B.C. - International police are searching for four Vancouver Island children allegedly abducted by their father overseas.
Alison Azer said in an online fundraising campaign that her ex-husband, Dr. Saren Azer, is a Kurdish Canadian who took their kids to the Middle East.
The children were legally allowed to leave Canada with their father but police were contacted on Aug. 15 when they weren't returned to their mother as scheduled, RCMP spokesman Cpl. Darren Lagan said.
A Canada-wide arrest warrant for Azer — also known as Salahaddin Mahumudi-Azer — was issued Monday for abduction in contravention of a custody order.
Canadian police have worked with their international counterparts to restrict Azer's international travel, Lagan said.
Policing agency INTERPOL lists the children — girls Sharvahn, 11, and Rojevahn, 9, and boys Dersim, 7, and three-year-old Meitan — as missing on its website.
"We understand how difficult this situation is for the children's mother and others in the community," Lagan said Wednesday in a statement.
"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."
Azer is a well-known internist from the Comox Valley and has spoken publicly about volunteering medical care to refugees in the Middle East.
In February, he was part of a delegation that met with then-defence minister Jason Kenney to advocate for more humanitarian assistance in Syria.
Kenney tweeted a photo of the pair shaking hands in March, with a caption that said Azer was "doing tremendous work" to get medical help for Iraqi refugees.
Alison Azer said on her fundraising page that she needed $25,000 to search for her children and bring them home. About $26,000 was raised by mid-day Wednesday, when the amount required was increased to $35,000.
News from © Canadian Press , 2015