Scots family stuck in Yemen in evacuation plea

Louise Henderson, who is stranded in Yemen with her two youngest children. Picture: Contributed
Louise Henderson, who is stranded in Yemen with her two youngest children. Picture: Contributed
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A FAMILY which is stuck in a basement in war-torn Yemen has launched a desperate appeal to be evacuated to the UK.

Louise Henderson, 49, and her two youngest children, Miriam, 11, and Ayesha, nine, are hiding in a shelter below their family home as bombs drop around them.

Louise Henderson's children, Miriam, 11, and Ayesha, nine. Picture: Contributed

Louise Henderson's children, Miriam, 11, and Ayesha, nine. Picture: Contributed

It comes after Houthi militias, aligned with Iran, began taking control of territory in Yemen, including the country’s capital in September.

In response, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition started launching air strikes in late March.

More than 1000 people have been killed in the fighting in the past month, prompting thousands to flee their homes.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has suspended embassy operations in the region and urged British nationals to leave by commercial means.

There is a shortage of basic things like water and gas for cooking and even food supplies

Bill Henderson

But Louise, originally from Linlithgow, is currently stuck as she is waiting for the family’s expired passports to be renewed and sent back from the UK. The mum-of-six and her youngest daughters have now launched an urgent plea for help.

Their family in Scotland said they were “concerned for their safety” and unsure how to get them out safe.

Louise’s sister, Heather Henderson, said: “We are trying to get them out of the country. It’s an absolute mess.

“We are at our wits’ end trying to get my sister and her two young girls to a place of safety.

A graphic detailing rebel-held areas in Yemen. Picture: Contributed

A graphic detailing rebel-held areas in Yemen. Picture: Contributed

“They could have got a flight just after the bombing campaign started but the flights which managed to leave were forced to run the gauntlet of surface-to-air missiles.”

Louise’s father, Bill Henderson, 77, a painter, said: “During the bombing they were forced to run into the basement and hide under the snooker table.

“I know the kids are very frightened. It makes us feel dreadful. The big problem at the moment is the uncertainty.

“There is a shortage of basic things like water and gas for cooking and even food supplies. The money is another big problem, because banks are shut.”

Louise has been living in the country for the past 27 years after marrying husband Wahab, an engineer in his mid-50s.

She worked as a teacher at the International School in the capital city of Sana’a until the troubles forced the facility to close over safety fears.

Louise and her children’s passports have expired and the UK authorities are closed.

Documents have now been posted to the UK for renewal which could take three weeks.

But it is not clear whether they would receive them if they were posted back.

Louise and her daughters are now considering making their way to the UK embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, where they could get emergency documents.

But getting there is dangerous as planes are at risk from surface-to-air missiles.

Bill added: “Getting out of Yemen is dangerous because they are firing at the planes on their way out. And the last thing we want is for them to get out and become stuck in another country.”

A spokesman for the FCO said: “Our embassy’s operations have been temporarily suspended. Our long-standing and consistent message to British nationals has been to leave the country.

“British nationals who remain in Yemen should leave immediately by commercial means.

“The British government will not be able to evacuate British nationals who remain in Yemen against this advice.”