Flight to life

Mumbai & Thiruvananthapuram: Set the clock back to 1991. George Bush of America was fighting Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Many were killed. Many evacuated. Turn to today. George W Bush of America is fighting Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Many are getting killed. Many are getting evacuated.

Not forgetting the fate of hapless citizens who got killed, and getting killed, and the physical and psychic trauma of the ones who are alive to tell the tale, those who really bore the brunt are the ones who work(ed) in the Middle East. They end(ed) up losing their jobs, fleeing towards their homelands in search of life (See '').

The new exodus has started; let's look at the latest news.

1,235 Indians return from Kuwait on A-I flights
All the four special flights, operated by Air-India (A-I) to bring back Indian nationals from Kuwait, have arrived. While three of these flights arrived at Mumbai carrying 994 Indian nationals, the fourth arrived in Kochi with 241 passengers, including 42 infants.

Says an A-I spokesman: ''The arrival of some of these special flights in Mumbai from Kuwait was delayed due to congestion at Kuwait airport and also because of a breakdown in conveyor belts. These resulted in baggage of some passengers, who travelled on the first two flights, being left behind in Kuwait.''

(Estimated number of Indian citizens in the Gulf region)
Iraq: 60
Iran: 800
Kuwait: 2,94,000
Qatar: 1,30,000
Saudi Arabia: 15,00,000
United Arab Emirates: 9,00,000
Oman: 3,11,000
Yemen: 900
Bahrain: 1,30,000
Jordan: 900

The spokesman urges the affected passengers to kindly appreciate the fact that facilities like conveyor belt at Kuwait airport were not maintained by A-I and that the national carrier could do little to help expedite matters in making the same functional. ''Passengers' safety was naturally accorded priority. An indefinite delay in departure of the flights from Kuwait might have led to disruption of other scheduled flights and non-availability of aircraft for more flights, including those for getting Indian nationals out of affected areas in the Gulf.''