THERE were 351 cases of international parental child abduction in 2010 involving 513 children, according to figures from UK charity Reunite.
Milton Keynes Citizen has been following the stories of two victims of child abduction, Ken Spooner and Sylvia Volna.
The two stories are remarkably similar.
Both had children with partners from a foreign background, both allowed these former partners to take the children abroad on ‘holidays’ after those relationships had failed – and both have been fighting to have the children brought home to Milton Keynes when their exes refused to do so.
Ken Spooner saw his ex-girlfriend Zanetta Nyendwa take boys Caelan and Devlan on a holiday to Zambia in October 2008.
She has never returned to this country despite an English Court Order insisting she does. Ken has spent more than £200,000 and even had to fight to clear his own name against false allegations he tried to re-abduct the boys.
Sylvia Volna’s daughter Imen was taken to Tunisia by her ex-partner Mekki Fitouri in August 2009 – again on what was purported to be a holiday.
18 months later she is still fighting to have Imen returned home.
Yet the British Government says it is powerless to interfere in such cases as it cannot be seen to intervene in the affairs of sovereign states abroad.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “Child custody and access issues have to be decided by the courts in that country.
“The British High Commission can play no role in their judicial process, just as foreign missions cannot interfere in the work of the UK courts.”
Advice Line Manager at Reunite Sharon Cooke said: “Parental child abduction is becoming an increasing problem as the world is getting smaller and there are more mixed national relationships and marriages.
“The psychological effects on the children who have been taken away from the other parent, their environment, normal routine, family and friends can be both devastating and traumatic.
“This can even affect them in later life. For the left-behind parent, the shock and the loss are unbearable, particularly if they don’t know where their children have been taken to.
“Even after they have been found, the fear and pain of not knowing if their children will return home is unimaginable.”
> Our video looks at their cases and examines the human consequences of child abduction on the left behind parent.