A mother whose children were allegedly taken by her Tunisian father four years ago has sent an emotional message of support to Louise Soliman, a Scottish mother who claims her children were kept by her ex-husband in Egypt, according to the Sunday Mail.
Three of Janet Russell's four children were “abducted” by her estranged husband Youssef before being taken to his homeland, Tunisia, said the paper.
Her eight-year-old son Sami, four-year-old daughter Sonia and Ramsay, who was just two, were too young not to trust their daddy.
And when the Scots mum read of Russell's plight, it brought back horrifying memories of her own loss. She said: "It must feel like the end of her world just now.
"Her children are so young. They have no memories."
Russell's children thought their father was taking them on a plane to Disney World, when in fact, he was illegally taking them to his family home in Tunis during a custody visit four years ago, said the Mail, adding, “Although a British court granted her custody, Tunisia, like Egypt, is outside the Hague Convention, meaning the authorities are powerless to act.”
Russell cannot get them back, but is luckier than many tug-of-love mums. Although her children are stuck there, her husband's family remembers her as a good wife and let her stay with the children, according to the report.
She visits four times a year and they talk longingly of the day they will be old enough to have their freedom. But it was only through their mother's stubbornness and determination that she got to see her children at all.
This is not the first time Soliman has received support from mothers suffering the same plight.
A Scottish mother whose daughter was kidnapped by her ex-husband two years ago has used Soliman’s case to raise the issue of the need for a government-backed fund to help others
Fiona Cameron alleges that she put her daughters, Rachael, then 11, and Sasha, then nine, on a plane to France for a holiday with their father, Robert, as part of an access arrangement.
Rachael returned after a row with her father, but Sasha, who was due be sent home three weeks later, has not been seen again by her mother. It is thought she is now living in South East Asia.
Soliman, from Clydebank, is involved in a battle to win back her two young children, who she claims were abducted by her Egyptian husband. Soliman says her daughters, Karina, three, and Darine, one, were taken during a visit to Egypt and she was forced to leave the country.
Cameron says the recent case has highlighted the increasing number of child abductions by parents and the heartbreak it brings to many.
Cameron said: "There should be government funding for people in these situations. Without help there is nothing you can do. At the very least there should be support units set up and funding for the people, mainly women, who have to take an action, sometimes abroad."
"If you can’t afford to do it then you do not have any chance of seeing your child again. That’s an infringement of basic human rights."
Citing statistics by Reunite, the international child abduction center in London, The Scotsman.com said that the number of cases had risen from 132 - involving 222 children - in 1995 to 247 (365 children) last year, a rise of 87 percent. Only 28 children were returned.
Cameron added: "This happens to a growing number of families each year. While the numbers may not sound a lot, it is terrible for those involved. That poor woman (Soliman) is sitting there today in this position. "
Soliman, who was married for three years, moved to Egypt with her 30-year-old husband, Tamer, but returned with the youngsters to Scotland for Christmas and filed for divorce, claiming he had beaten her.
She said she had agreed to return to Egypt last month to allow her children to see their grandparents, Hussien and Nazik Soliman. However, she said the retired police chief had taken them when she agreed to meet her husband for a coffee.
Soliman said she had then been driven to the airport and forced to leave the country, with a policeman escorting her to the plane.
The UK Foreign Office said that it would do what it could to assist the woman.
A spokeswoman said a lawyer representing her had contacted the British embassy in Cairo last Thursday. However, she said officials needed more information before taking further action.
The spokesman said: "We are still awaiting further details. We will offer whatever assistance and advice we can, but ultimately it will be for her to obtain legal advice from Egypt, and it will be for an Egyptian court to decide who should have custody of the children." –Albawaba.com
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