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Middle east

Doubts raised over rescue of French journalist Bouvier

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-02-28

Hours after British photojournalist Paul Conroy was smuggled to safety from Syria to neighbouring Lebanon in the early hours of Tuesday, doubts remained over the whereabouts of French reporter Edith Bouvier.

Hours after a wounded British journalist was evacuated from Syria to neighbouring Lebanon, there were conflicting reports on Tuesday on the whereabouts of Edith Bouvier, a French reporter who was injured in the besieged Syrian city of Homs.

During a campaign stop in the southern city of Montpellier Tuesday afternoon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared to confirm reports of Bouvier’s escape to Lebanon.

Responding to a reporter’s question, Sarkozy said he was “glad this nightmare is ending. The negotiations were not terribly easy, they really weren't."

However the French presidential office as well as the French Foreign Ministry declined to confirm reports that the 31-year-old freelance journalist who was reporting for the daily, Le Figaro, had arrived in Lebanon.

Speaking to FRANCE 24, Frank Louvrier, Sarkozy’s media adviser, said, "We have no information and Edith Bouvier could still be in Syria."

Shortly after his apparent confirmation of Bouvier’s escape, Sarkozy retracted his statement, stressing that, “It is not confirmed that she is now safe in Lebanon."

The conflicting reports followed the successful escape of British photographer Paul Conroy, who arrived in Lebanon after a perilous journey from Homs late Monday night into early Tuesday.

Bouvier and Conroy were reporting in the Baba Amr neighbourhood of the besieged Syrian city of Homs when they came under attack last week. Veteran American reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the attack.

There was no information on what has happened to the bodies of Colvin and Ochlik.

Bouvier suffered multiple fractures in the Baba Amr attack and there have been mounting calls for her evacuation to Lebanon.

Reporting from the Lebanese capital of Beirut, FRANCE 24’s Lucy Fielder said members of the global activist group, Avaaz, had arranged Conroy’s escape, but they did not manage to get Bouvier out.

“Avaaz representatives in Beirut said they tried to get her out, but they could not,” said Fielder.

Speaking to FRANCE 24, a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the Red Cross as well as the Syrian Arab Red Crescent was not involved in Conroy’s evacuation and she had no updates on Bouvier’s whereabouts.

A plea for help

Last week, Bouvier appeared in a videotaped message pleading for help in getting from Homs to Lebanon.

Lying in bed under a blanket, Bouvier detailed her extensive injuries.

"I have a broken leg. The femur is broken along its length and laterally too. I need to undergo surgery as soon as possible. The doctors here have treated us as well as they could but they can't perform surgery. So I need a ceasefire and an ambulance or car in good enough shape to get us out," she said.

Red Cross still pressing for ceasefire

The ICRC has been trying to secure a ceasefire in Syria in order to deliver badly needed humanitarian aid to the besieged parts of the country.

On Tuesday, the ICRC managed to deliver aid to the Syrian cities of Homs and Idlib, ICRC’s chief spokesperson Carla Haddad-Mardini told FRANCE 24.

But Haddad-Mardini added that efforts to get a ceasefire on the ground to deliver aid were still ongoing.

“The situation is very tense on the ground, there’s fighting going on, so we’re still reiterating our call to all those involved in the violence for a daily hold on the fighting,” said Haddad-Mardini.

Date created : 2012-02-28

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