Singaporean mum back home from Yemen grateful for China's help

April 9, 2015 12:31 pm 

SINGAPORE, April 9 — Sherin Fathimah Syed Abdul Ravoof, a Singaporean woman who was evacuated from Yemen together with her four children via Chinese frigate Linyi, told Xinhua by phone that they are really grateful for boarding the Chinese vessel.

"If we can't get on the ship, we can't get out of Yemen," said Sherin Syed.

TOUGH JOURNEY TO REACH THE PORT

Sherin, 37, and her four children, aged between four and 13 years, came back to Singapore safely on April 4.

The family arrived in Djibouti onboard the Chinese frigate on April 2. Then, they took a five-hour flight to Istanbul to transfer. They finally arrived in Singapore after a flight of about 11 hours. However, the long journey is only part of the story.

As situation in Yemen deteriorated, the harbor to board on the ship became a dangerous place to reach. "It's really hard to find a driver to get there as everybody said the road is not safe," said Sherin.

A man, who came from the same village of Sherin's Yemeni husband, helped them reach the port.

It's about 30 minutes by car to the port. But on that day, it took the family about two hours.

The mother and her four kids left their home at 6 a.m. and managed to reach the port at about 8 a.m.

As fights continued, they heard gunshots along the way. They had to stop to make sure whether the situation ahead is safe before moved on. In Sherin's words, they had to "move forward inch by inch" until they finally arrived the port.

GRATEFUL TO BOARD ON CHINESE SHIP

Sherin was one of the first few person who board on Chinese frigate Linyi to evacuate from Yemen. She said it's a "miracle" to get on the vessel.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) approached several countries with embassies and ground assets to help facilitate the departure of Sherin and her children before china agreed them onboard one of the vessels to leave, said an MFA spokesman.

"Singapore and china has very good relationship," said Sherin, "they are really friendly."

Sherin noted that on the Chinese vessel, the crew provided toys to the children in the bunk, and then offered them lunch. She's really grateful to the Chinese government.

Singapore's MFA also thanked the Chinese government for its "positive and speedy response" in facilitating the departure of Sherin Fathima Syed Abdul Ravoof and her children in a statement on April 3.

"Apart from five Singaporeans, foreign nationals from others countries also got help from China and finally came back home," said Emilyn Poh, a former diplomat from MFA, "I'm really grateful for China's assistance. As Singapore and China share long-standing relationship and the two countries cooperate with each other in various fields, the Yemen evacuation actually offered a chance for the two countries to strengthen their ties, enhancing friendship and consolidating the foundation for cooperation."

EXPERT: SHAPING CHINA'S IMAGE OF A RESPONSIBLE COUNTRY

Associate Professor Li Mingjiang, at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, told Xinhua that the evacuation of foreign citizens out of Yemen with Chinese frigate Linyi is a significant move for both China and the world.

The evacuation shows China's commitment and capability to help citizens in war-torn areas. The evacuation helps China to win trust in international community, which also contribute to shaping the image of a responsible country.

Li also mentioned that the scale of foreign citizens who were rescued via the Chinese vessel is relatively small, but this is the first time that China helped foreign nationals with its own frigate, which marks China's endeavor to safeguard the security of overseas Chinese as well as foreign citizens.(PNA/Xinhua)

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