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My Sister, Nicole Vienneau, Has Gone Missing in Syria - The Beginning Of My Ascendance — LiveJournal
April 22nd, 2007
10:59 am

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My Sister, Nicole Vienneau, Has Gone Missing in Syria

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC)

From Syria Again

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Hi - I wrote from Syria a few posts back;

I have just been to the four hotels in Saroujah - almost all backpackers stay at one of these four. Some understood what I was trying to explain better than others & I tried to check all of their 'log' books to see if there was any record of Nicole. I didn't find anything, but I have to stress that with my lack of Arabic vocab & their lack of understanding of the situation, it wasn't the most comprehensive search.

I also went to the Immigration Office but it was closed as today is a holiday.

We leave tomorrow, so I am sorry I can't help much further here. However, as I mentioned before & as one of the hotel owners said to me - the Canadian Consulate should easily be able to establish where she has been in Syria & if she has left or not.

There are only a handful of hotels that foreigners stay in, so it is really a case of them contacting these, along with the immigration department. I was told that if I went to immigration they probably wouldn't help, but if the consulate contacted them they would do all that they could.

I'm not sure what your dealings with the consulate are so far, but perhaps you need to talk to them again. When I went to the hotels I half expected them to say that the consulate had already been in touch with them, but clearly they had not.

It easy & cheap to extend a visa in Syria, however as mentioned, she may have travelled on to Turkey or beyond. I assume you're tracking with authorities there too?

I wish you all the best in your search & wish we were here longer to help.

I would suggest that maybe you put together a fact sheet or poster that someone could print out & distribute or show people on the ground here?

Finally, to all the people saying negative things here about Syria - I suggest you open your mind a little & think beyond what you see on your heavily biased western tv screens.

Syria is remarkably safe - it is the kind of country where people constantly offer you tea, food & invites to their home. Crime is almost non existent & I feel extremely safe. People are very very friendly indeed to tourists.

Some people in Syria may think that they are the lucky ones - I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of the senseless violence that occurs daily in Europe & North America?

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From:vienneau
Date:May 1st, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)

Re: From Syria Again

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Thank you so much for your efforts. It is very gratifying to know that all of this Internet work is turning into actual visits. You wouldn't happen to know the names of any of the places you checked?

I am going to pull together a list of easy to read facts as you've suggested and update the blog so it's available for everyone. I'm investigating whether there's already a poster in the works from the RCMP, and if not, I'll make one.

Thanks again, it's really appreciated that you went to this extra effort.

Matt
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From:somuchforhope
Date:May 1st, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)

Re: From Syria Again

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If he/she checked the hotels in Sarouja, there are only four which are budget/backpacker hotels: al-Haramain, al-Rabie, Ghazal, and al-Saadeh.

March and April has been extremely busy here with regards to backpackers and other western tourists, and all four of these hotels have frequently been full. It is quite possible that she was forced to stay elsewhere because of this. There are numerous other cheap hotels nearby, in an area called Marjeh, but it is unlikely you'll find anyone at any of those hotels that speak English.

Still, it is possible she stayed at one of those four hotels and the staff didn't check back in their records a full month.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC)

Re: From Syria Again

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Hi - I checked the four hotels as listed above. At all but al-Saadeh we checked back until mid March - I was trying to check the names, while the staff were looking for all Canadians. I would have to stress that they didn't really grasp the potential seriousness, so although I was trying my best to be thorough, it really wasn't that easy. Also, as they tried to rush me through we were looking for Nicole (& all any variation), but that being her second name it could have been missed. I think if someone who speaks Arabic could try again then they would have a much better chance of getting the job done properly. I'm sorry I couldn't do more!

It is certainly true that it has been busy here - there is a chance that the hotels were full, although if she passed through twice (before & after Lebanon?) she may have booked the second time.

We are leaving now, but will keep our eyes open as we are passing through Turkey (very briefly). I've also just spoken to a Canadian who is living here & knows a few people in the area. She has taken the website details so will hopefully take a look at what she can do.

Regards,

Tim
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