Safia Saleh, 34, abducted from Cardiff as baby, returns home

Jackie Saleh said she had suffered decades of depression after losing her three children overnight
Image caption Jackie Saleh said she had suffered decades of depression after losing her three children overnight

A mother said she was "overwhelmed" by being reunited with her daughter 34 years after she was abducted and taken to Yemen by her father.

Safia Saleh, now 34, is married with four children - but fled war-torn Yemen to Egypt with her family on Christmas Eve as their hometown was bombed.

Her sister Lucy Hewer, 30, from Cardiff, had been calling on the UK government to help secure their return.

The family flew into Heathrow on Wednesday and travelled to Cardiff.

Mum Jackie Saleh said she was "so, so happy" and thanked people who organised and donated towards a crowdfunding campaign which raised £7,500.

Image copyright Safia Saleh
Image caption Safia Saleh said she felt "safe now" after being reunited with her mother Jackie

In 1986, aged 18 months, Safia and her sisters Rahannah, five and Nadia, four, were abducted by their father and taken to Yemen.

Rahannah had remembered her mother's address and in 2001, at the age of 21, wrote to her. In the May, Mrs Saleh flew out to Yemen and brought Rahannah and Nadia, then 19, home.

But Safia had been told a different woman was her mother and had no idea of the truth until Mrs Saleh later visited her in Yemen and presented her with her birth certificate.

Safia, her husband Labeb and their children Mohammed, 12, Jacqueline, 11, Lucy, 10, and Asalah, two, arrived in Cardiff late on Wednesday.

"I am very overwhelmed and so, so happy to be reunited with my daughter Safia after 34 years," Mrs Saleh said.

"I have also gained four grandchildren and a son-in-law. I never gave up fighting for my children."

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Safia Saleh was abducted when she was a baby
Image copyright Jackie Saleh
Image caption Sadek Saleh abducted his children and took them to Yemen in 1986. He died in 2007

Safia thanked people for securing her return, explaining she had been trying to leave Yemen since 2006 but faced corruption and a lack of cash.

"I am very happy that I arrived to be with my mother and my sister," she said.

"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."

Image copyright Safia Saleh
Image caption Safia Saleh, her husband and children aged 12, 11, 10 and two, had been trying to get to the UK after fleeing Yemen

Jackie gave special thanks to Assembly Member Neil McEvoy for organising the campaign.

Mr McEvoy added: "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."

Image copyright Jackie Saleh
Image caption Safia and her sisters Rahannah and Nadia (pictured) were abducted in 1986

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