A Quebec woman and her Italian travel companion who went missing in West Africa late last year are still alive, but no longer in Burkina Faso, according to a government official of the African country, speaking on an Italian news channel.
Édith Blais, a 34-year-old Sherbrooke resident, and Luca Tacchetto, a 30-year-old Italian national, went missing from southwestern Burkina Faso in December, after having travelled by car through Mali.
Blais was on her way to the neighbouring country of Togo, where she was planning to work on a reforestation project.
Blais and Tacchetto set off in his car on Nov. 20 from the northern Italian town of Vigonza, outside Padua. They travelled through France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali before arriving in Burkina Faso. They were last seen in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in the country’s southwest.
“Our information shows they are no longer on our territory. We can affirm these people are still alive,” Remis Fulgance Dandjinou, a government minister and spokesperson based in Ouagadougou, told Italian public broadcaster Rai.
Global Affairs Canada has provided limited details about the case since the two travellers went missing.
“We’re aware of reports of a Canadian missing in Burkina Faso,” the ministry said in a statement in response to Dandjinou’s comments. “Canadian officials are in contact with the individual’s family and are providing assistance.
“The Canadian government’s priority is always the safety and security of its citizens. For that reason, we will not comment or divulge any information that could compromise current efforts or endanger the safety of Canadians,” it said.
Report points to kidnapping
In March, a Human Rights Watch report stated the pair was abducted and taken to Mali. The Canadian government did not confirm that information, but said it was not ruling out any possibilities.
Senior Liberal cabinet ministers met with Blais’s family in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region in January and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time he believed Blais was still alive.