Police searching for four children abducted by Valley doctor

Alison Azer and her four children abducted by her ex-husband - Family photo
Alison Azer and her four children abducted by her ex-husband
— image credit: Family photo

A local doctor, Dr. Saren Azer, who has been known for his humanitarian work in Iraq, is now being sought by police for allegedly abducting his four children.

A Canada-wide warrant for his arrest has been issued after Azer, who had been traveling with his children in Germany, failed to return home on Aug. 21.

This alarmed the children's mother Alison, who now fears that her ex-husband, who is of Kurdish descent, has taken her children Sharvahn Delahn Mahmudi-Azer, 11, Rojevahn Beritan Mahmudi-Azer, 9, Dersim Baran Mahmudi-Azer, 7, and Meitan Serbast Mahmudi-Azer, 3 to northern Iraq.

RCMP Island District spokesman Cpl. Darren Lagan said they have been

working with the Comox Valley Detachment, along with provincial and federal RCMP officers in Canada and abroad on this case and also with international law enforcement partners and INTERPOL. They continue to look at all possibilities relating to their disappearance.

Measures were also taken to restrict further international travel by the father and children, who were legally permitted to leave Canada.

Comox Valley RCMP went to obtain a warrant for Azer's arrest on Aug. 24 for 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 Lagan in a written 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 an internal medicine specialist at St. Joseph's General Hospital, well-known in the Comox Valley community for his humanitarian work at refugee camps in Iraq and Syria. He has been raising awareness of the unfortunate plight and suffering of the people who have been displaced by the war against ISIS. He met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this year to ask the Canadian government for help.

However, his marriage with Alison had been falling apart. Alison has interim sole custody of the children but has joint guardianship with Azer. It was awarded by the Supreme Court when Alison applied for custody and relocation to Calgary, Alberta at a hearing in Victoria on Jan. 24, 2013.

In a fundraising page, Alison indicated that she has feared the most for a long time what has happened. She is hoping to raise $25,000 to search for her children.

"Three years ago I fled with my children and had established myself and my kids in what I thought was a safe environment, free from the abusive nature of my ex-husband," Alison wrote in her fundraising page. "I worked through our judicial system to ensure both the safety and security for myself and my children even though, as a mother, I was always terrified that this nightmare would come true. And on August 14th it did."

If you have any information on the location of Azer or his four children, contact your local police force, or the Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321.

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