Canada treating disappearance of Quebec woman in Burkina Faso as kidnapping

Canada treating disappearance of Quebec woman in Burkina Faso as kidnapping

A Canadian woman who traveled to Burkina Faso with an Italian friend as part of a humanitarian aid program has been reported missing, the foreign ministry said Saturday.

The family of a 34-year-old Quebec woman travelling in West Africa fears for her safety after not hearing from her for three weeks.

Blais was last in contact with her mother on December 13, while Tacchetto last spoke with his family two days later, on the same day Blais posted a photo album of their trip on Facebook.

According to a Facebook page created by her sister, communication between the two travellers and their respective families were "very frequent" and stopped abruptly.

The pair were supposed to travel by vehicle to Togo for a humanitarian aid project with Zion'Gaia, an environmentally oriented group that engages in reforestation projects, according to its website. "She has been dreaming about travelling to Africa for all of her life", Melanie Blais said.

Blais' family has started a Facebook page and are grateful for the help they've received so far, including from a Quebecer in Burkina Faso who is travelling in person to different border crossings to ask about Blais.

Luca Tacchetto and Edith Blais
Luca Tacchetto and Edith Blais

Burkina Faso is known to be a risky place for foreigners.

The Canadian government warns travellers to avoid all "non-essential travel" to Burkina Faso, particularly the northern area and its borders with Mali, Niger, Benin and Togo because of the threat of terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping.

Global Affairs Canada says consular officials are reaching out to local authorities in Burkina Faso to follow up on reports of a missing Canadian.

Blais' disappearance comes as a B.C. man is being detained in Syria.

"They are there to remind Canadians to avoid going to these places where you will be, to a large degree, on your own if you're captured", he told CTV News.

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