Scots expat trapped in Yemen reveals UK relief

Louise Henderson and her daughters Ayisha, 9, left, and Mariam, 11. Picture: SWNS/Hemedia
Louise Henderson and her daughters Ayisha, 9, left, and Mariam, 11. Picture: SWNS/Hemedia
Share this article
0
Have your say

A SCOTTISH expat who was caught in a Middle Eastern war zone with her children has told of her relief after finally being evacuated to the UK.

Louise Henderson, 49, and her two youngest daughters, Miriam, 11, and Ayesha, nine, were trapped in a shelter below their home in Yemen amid heavy fighting.

A Yemeni woman inspects a damaged car in a residential area that was destroyed by Saudi-led air strike last month, in Sanaa. Picture: Getty

A Yemeni woman inspects a damaged car in a residential area that was destroyed by Saudi-led air strike last month, in Sanaa. Picture: Getty

The mother-of-six had lived in the country for the past 27 years and worked as a teacher at the International School in the capital city, Sanaa.

Ms Henderson, originally from Linlithgow, said an escalation of the crisis in recent weeks and continuous shelling made her fear for her children’s lives.

She said they were forced to lived under “horrendous” conditions and witnessed the destruction of war just outside their family home.

But after launching a desperate appeal for help, they have finally been evacuated to the UK.

Speaking from her parents’ home in St Monans, Fife yesterday, Ms Henderson said: “The bombing was terrifying and the conditions were absolutely horrendous. It was far too dangerous to stay.

“Hearing your girls crying for their lives is heartbreaking. They were terrified. The explosions would shake the house. You would hear the airplanes and every time you wonder what they are going to hit next.

“People were starving in the streets and missiles were flying over our home.

“Every day we were hiding in the basement because we were scared that the bombs would land on our heads. We were scared there was going to be another attack.

“We’d feel the house shaking every time a bomb landed. At one point, the blast caused the doors and the windows to blow open.

“There’s nothing you can do. It’s like somebody is holding a gun to your head with your hands tied behind your back.

“Thankfully, I was able to get my daughters to safety.”

The family’s ordeal started when Houthi militias, aligned with Iran, began taking control of territory in Yemen, including the capital, in September.

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

Hospitals, schools and mosques have been hit by shelling. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting over the past few weeks, prompting many more to flee their homes.

The Foreign Office was forced to suspended embassy operations in the region while urging British nationals to leave by commercial means.

Ms Henderson had been living in Yemen after marrying husband Wahab, 52, who works as an engineer.

When troubles started, she was initially stuck because their passports had run out and commercial flights were grounded over safety fears.

She eventually received help from the International Organisation for Migration which is evacuating people from Yemen.

Wahab and their youngest son, Sammy, 21, are still in Yemen. Wahab is guarding the family house as they hope to sell it once peace returns and move to the UK.