Linlithgow mum relives Yemen war zone terror

Louise Henderson, Ayesha, left, and Miriam are now home from Yemen. Picture: Hemedia
Louise Henderson, Ayesha, left, and Miriam are now home from Yemen. Picture: Hemedia
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A MOTHER who was caught in a Middle Eastern war zone with her children has told of her relief after finally getting back to Scotland.

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.

The mother-of-six lived in the country for the past 27 years and worked as a teacher at the International School in Sana’a.

Ms Henderson, originally from Linlithgow, said an escalation of the crisis in recent weeks and continuous shelling had made her fear for her children’s lives. She said they were forced to live under “horrendous” conditions and witnessed the destruction of war just outside their family home.

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

Speaking from her parents’ home in St Monans, Fife, she said: “The bombing was terrifying and the conditions were absolutely horrendous.

“Hearing your girls crying for their lives is heartbreaking. They were terrified.

“The explosions would shake the house. You would hear the aeroplanes 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.”

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

Ms Henderson had been living in Yemen for the past 27 years, after marrying Wahab, 52, who works as an engineer and is still in the country with youngest son Sammy, 21.

When the trouble 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 third country nationals from the Yemen.

The family escaped to Basan, Saudi Arabia, transferring to Sudan and then flying back to the UK via Qatar.

Ms Henderson said she would never return to Yemen and hopes her family can build a new life. She said: “It was a beautiful country until the troubles started. I don’t want to go back to Yemen – ever.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com