Two young girls kidnapped and taken to Egypt by their migrant father have been safely returned to their mother in Switzerland after an ordeal lasting four and a half years.
The two girls Sarah, 7, and Nuran, 9, were kidnapped by their Egyptian migrant father in 2014 after mother Karin Trachsel divorced him.
In July 2014, she suddenly noticed the children were missing from her home in the Canton of Bern in Switzerland.
What followed was a long judicial battle with seemingly no end in sight as the Egyptian authorities refused to cooperate.
Even though she won the legal right for custody in an Egyptian court in 2016, it still took two and a half years more until she succeeded bringing her children home.
Karin has now successfully managed to fly to Egypt to pick up her children in a long-awaited reunion.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry, which supported Karin during her ordeal, did not want to share how they managed to eventually put the children on a plane back to Switzerland, citing privacy reasons and GDPR laws.
The grandfather of the children was the first to publicly announce the happy news.
He wrote: “What a joy. Our grandchildren are freed in Egypt and can return to their mother in Switzerland. We now hope that they can enjoy their childhood here in peace.”
Mother Karin said that she was unsure until the last minute whether the attempt to get her children home would succeed.
She said: “Until the plane took off, I was afraid someone would come and we’d have to get off. When we took off, that was the moment when it was okay for me.”
Karin said she is not sure what exactly has changed so that this week she was able to fly her children home as previously the Egyptian authorities had blocked all attempts despite an Islamic family court deciding in her favour.
She said: “Maybe there was a change of personnel with the Egyptian authorities.”
As the country does not subscribe to international treaties combating child kidnapping, many people feared the worst.
Karin said that her children “ultimately feel better here.”
She said: “They have a better environment here. The education is better, the country is better.”
Karin said that even though it might be a bit strange for Sarah and Nuran to be back in Switzerland after four and a half years in Egypt she thinks they will do fine.
She said: “They are still young and can still adapt.”