Shelley Beyak of Abbotsford is shown here with her kids Mia and Liam before they were illegally taken to Lebanon by their father in spring 2018.

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

An Abbotsford mom whose kids were abducted to Beirut, Lebanon by their father two years ago is desperately hoping for word that they are OK following a massive explosion in the capital city this week.

Shelley Beyak said she has been emailing, texting and calling her estranged husband, Wissam Tarabichi, begging for word that her children – Liam, 10, and Mia, 11 – are safe.

But Beyak said she is not surprised that she hasn’t heard back from Tarabichi because he has been ignoring her since her last visit to Beirut in November.

“I would do anything to talk to them,” Beyak said.

Mia and Liam have been in Lebanon since March 2018, when they were scheduled to travel on a court-approved trip to Seattle with Tarabichi – who is from Beirut – over spring break.

RELATED: Abbotsford mom fights to get back kids abducted to Lebanon by their dad

They didn’t return for the start of school at Margaret Stenersen Elementary in Abbotsford, and Beyak was notified.

It was then discovered that Tarabichi had indeed travelled to Seattle but, from there, he and the kids boarded a plane to Paris and then to Beirut, which does not recognize international parental kidnapping as a crime and where custody issues are often made by religious authorities.

The Canadian courts stripped Tarabichi of all his parents rights and a warrant for his arrest remains in effect, but it can only be executed if he leaves Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Beyak has launched an extensive – and expensive – legal battle to get her kids back, including hiring a lawyer in Lebanon, contacting politicians, and urging the Canadian government to help her in her battle to bring them home.

Beyak has also made visits to Beirut, where she was able to see Mia and Liam in person in early and late 2019, after which Tarabichi ignored all attempts by Beyak to reach him for further contact with the kids.

RELATED: Abbotsford mom travels to Beirut to visit abducted kids

RELATED: Abbotsford mom calls on PM to help bring home kids abducted to Lebanon

At that time, Beyak was becoming increasingly concerned about the kids’ safety, due to a series of violent civil protests that began in mid-October, launching a political and economic crisis, including the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The crisis has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the two situations resulting in Lebanon’s currency plummeting, soaring food prices, massive layoffs and widespread poverty.

Beyak said a court date had been set for March of this year in Lebanon to determine custody of the kids, and she had been “cautiously optimistic” about how it would proceed.

But the courts were shut down during the protests and continue to remain closed due to the pandemic, and Beyak has no idea when her case can proceed or when she will be able to see Liam and Mia again.

She was further distressed this week after hearing that a massive explosion had taken place at a warehouse in Beirut that was storing 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate – used as a fertilizer in agriculture and an explosive.

RELATED: Huge explosions rock Beirut with widespread damage, injuries

As of Wednesday morning, news reports indicate that at least 135 people had died in the explosion, more than 4,000 people were injured and 300,000 people had suffered damage to their homes.

Beyak said that if the kids are OK, she would like just one message from Tarabichi to confirm that.

“I think Mia and Liam would at least like to talk to their mom … I imagine they feel alone,” she said.



vhopes@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

abbotsfordLebanon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Shelley Beyak is shown here with her son Liam and daughter Mia in Abbotsford. The kids were abducted to Lebanon by their father in 2018.

Just Posted

Central zone has 20 active cases of COVID-19

Province identified 143 new cases across Alberta on Wednesday

Province should set mask policy, says city councillor

Digital conference will raise issues of local concern

Education taxes, ambulance dispatch concern Red Deer city councillors at AUMA meeting

The digital convention will raise issues of local concern

High school’s student’s anti-racism video offers hope

Jose Jordan got dozens of high school students to participate

Trail closed near Red Deer water treatment plant until Nov. 1

Construction on intake in river continuing

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Former Wales star Rob Howley returns to rugby with Canadian national team

Former Wales star Rob Howley returns to rugby with Canadian national team

Back to work: NBA’s non-Disney clubs start team workouts

Back to work: NBA’s non-Disney clubs start team workouts

“We refused to play,” Henry blasts team as Impact lose 3-1 to Revolution

“We refused to play,” Henry blasts team as Impact lose 3-1 to Revolution

4-nation Rugby Championship to be played as 6 doubleheaders

4-nation Rugby Championship to be played as 6 doubleheaders

For NBA players, Taylor grand jury decision ‘not enough’

For NBA players, Taylor grand jury decision ‘not enough’

Pozuelo scores on penalty in 90th, Toronto FC beats NYC 1-0

Pozuelo scores on penalty in 90th, Toronto FC beats NYC 1-0

Blue Jays dump Yankees 14-1 to inch closer to securing post-season berth

Blue Jays dump Yankees 14-1 to inch closer to securing post-season berth

Reactions to the minority Liberal government’s speech from the throne

Reactions to the minority Liberal government’s speech from the throne

Most Read