The family of Safia Saleh are celebrating following her return to Cardiff thanks to a crowdfunding campaign which raised £7,500 to enable her to escape from war-torn Yemen.
The 34-year old was abducted by her father in 1986, aged 18 months, and taken to Yemen along with her two older sisters.
Jackie Saleh, Safia’s mother said: “I am very overwhelmed and so, so happy to be reunited with my daughter Safia after 34 years. I have also gained 4 grandchildren and a son in law. I never gave up fighting for my children. The 34 year journey has been a roller-coaster. Everything has been so intense and I ask that our family be left now to start our new lives. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
“I want to thank everybody for all your support and everyone who donated to the crowd funder. This day would have never happened otherwise. I want to thank Neil McEvoy for all his support and in organising the crowd funder.”
Safia added:“I thank everyone here who helped. This situation was very hard, even just to get contact with my mam. The situation in the Yemen because of the war is very, very, difficult. We didn’t have the money to come to Wales, so my mother had to help.
“I have been trying to leave the Yemen since 2006. The Embassy in Yemen was no help at all. They just took the fees and did not help. I still have the receipts for the payments.
“I am very happy that I arrived to be with my mother and my sister. It was so difficult in the Yemen. We had no money, no house and no school for the children. There was no security.
“I have a feeling I cannot express with words. I feel safe now with my mother. I feel better.
My husband stood by me this whole time and was ready to do what he needed to do for the children, even if it meant saying goodbye to them. He was ready to sacrifice everything for us, but we are so grateful that he is here with us. I am very happy.”
Jackie Saleh’s daughter, Lucy Hewer expressed her gratitude for the help the family had from South Wales Central AM Neil McEvoy and Kevin Brennan, the MP for Cardiff West:
“I would like to thank Neil McEvoy who has been my rock on a daily basis. You answered my calls and texts any time of day and it meant a lot when I had no one else to help. You have worked tremendously hard to get Safia home. With your kind genuine heart it has been a joy for you to be on this journey with us.
“I would like to thank Kevin Brennan for his hard work in helping Safia and her husband obtaining the travel documents. I would like to thank all the Foreign office staff in London for being so patient when times were frustrating and emotions heightened. We would like to acknowledge the late Rhodri Morgan, a wonderful man who did everything in his power at the time this story first started. My mum has been amazing and strong and I am so proud to call her my mum and have her dream come true.”
Neil McEvoy said: “It has been an absolute privilege to be able to help Jackie Saleh, Lucy and all the family. There are moments in life when it seems that all hope is lost. But Jackie and her family kept going for 34 years. She never gave up and has always fought for her daughters, even when they were thousands of miles away in a war zone. It just shows that anything is possible.”