S'pore family escapes Yemen

S'pore family escapes Yemen

The Singaporean woman and her four young children stuck in Yemen are on their way home, her brother said.

As the war-torn Middle-East country descended further into chaos yesterday, Madam Sherin Fathima Syed Abdul Ravoof, 37, and her children are believed to have arrived in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.

The New Paper reported on Wednesday that the family was stuck in the southern port city of Aden after fighting broke out, leading to the closure of roads and ports.

They managed to get out yesterday, just hours before rebel fighters stormed the former presidential palace in Aden.

The family, who had moved to Aden just six months ago, has been evacuated by a Chinese navy ship, said Madam Sherin's brother, Mr Nasirudheen Syed, 36.

He said that Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had managed to secure them a place on the vessel, which set sail last night and is due to arrive in Djibouti early today.

"We don't know much details about the ship because it's a military vessel, so security is very tight," he said, adding that he had not spoken to his sister since she left her Aden home.

In Djibouti, the family will stay overnight in a hotel before flying to Singapore tomorrow.

Mr Nasirudheen said this was made possible by MFA's contacts and that the ministry even arranged for a local shipping agent to meet the family at the port to make sure they were safe.

"All this is just in time. My nephew told me that they heard airplanes over their apartment for the first time on Wednesday night," he said.


Even the driver that Madam Sherin booked for the 45-minute drive to the port wanted to back out.

"The driver told my sister that he was afraid because there were rebels in the area. But she managed to convince him to take her and the children. She's a very determined woman," Mr Nasirudheen said with a laugh.

When they get to Singapore, the family will be staying with Madam Sherin's 63-year-old mother.

"My three children are looking forward to having their cousins back earlier," said Mr Nasirudheen.

"They were due to come back in May during the school holidays."

"We're happy to have them back but we wish that it were under better circumstances."

He added that the family would monitor the situation in the Middle-East closely before deciding if it was safe to return.

Madam Sherin's husband, a Yemeni businessman, who is stuck in Saudi Arabia, will try and make his way out.

"If they decide to stay in Singapore, the children will need to be put in schools, and they will need somewhere to live," said Mr Nasirudheen.

"But that's a bridge we'll cross when we come to it."

Yemen became a trouble spot last year when Iran-backed Houthi fighters seized the capital Sanaa and effectively removed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The rebels this week started advancing towards Aden, about seven hours south of Sanaa.

They stormed President Hadi's palace in his former southern stronghold of Aden, dealing a symbolic blow to him, reported AFP.

Arab warplanes have pounded Yemen over the past week, with a Saudi-led coalition vowing to continue the air raids until the rebels end their uprising.

This article was first published on April 3, 2015.
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