herald

Friday 18 January 2019

Kidnap girl and her mum stranded in war-hit Syria

A DUBLIN woman is stuck in civil war-torn Syria after being reunited with her daughter who had been kidnapped by her father.

Swords native Louise Monaghan (36) is unable to leave Idlib, a city near the Turkish border, and head back to Ireland with her six-year-old daughter May.

May was abducted last week in Limassol, on the southern coast of Cyprus by her father Mostafa Assad.

Mostafa insisted that Louise move to Syria, his home country, if she ever wanted to go see their daughter again, so the devoted mum arrived there on Monday evening.

Louise's sister Mandy explained: "They have made contact with the Irish consul there who are doing all they can to get them out.

"But Louise is not allowed to go anywhere. She can't leave the house because it's so dangerous there."

Violent protests have taken place in Syria since January after part of the population started demanding greater political freedom. The stand-off has led to more than 2,200 deaths over the past nine months.

May was born in Cyprus where her parents met and where Louise had been living for more than nine years.

Cypriot authorities issued an arrest warrant for Mostafa when they discovered that he had taken May to Syria without seeking the permission of her distraught mother, who has sole custody of the child.

Mostafa and Louise divorced last November and it is understood that he wanted Louise to sell all her belongings in Cyprus, and move over to Syria to live as his wife over there.

Louise's family are worried that it will be very difficult to get May back as Syria has not signed the Hague Convention which forces child abductors to be taken back to the nation they fled.

"We are all terrified that we might not see either of them again," said Mandy. "The law in Syria is very much on the side of the father and we know we have a hard battle."

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs told the Herald that it was "providing every assistance" to the family and it is understood that officials have flown to Cyprus and Turkey to try and help the Irish mother and daughter.

hnews@herald.ie

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