Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The little publicized story of how India rescued their people

When Sadam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers were there: Some left behind by employers who fled, others who had jobs but worried they would be used as "human hostages" to stop the UN authorized invasion to remove Iraqi troops there.

One little know story (i.e. in the West) is how India arranged their 170 thousand workers to be evacuated: One of the largest civilian evacuations in history.

Private enterprise to the rescue. (okay, state owned and operated enterprize).... they used the planes of Air India to fly the people from Amman Jordan back home.


LINK2 from

Initially, a few military aircrafts were arranged to evacuate the elderly, women and children. But due to a lengthy air space clearance procedure, this did not seem like a feasible solution. So the government turned to Air India for assistance.You should have seen us. We were operating out of a hotel room in Amman with very little space and carrying out all our operations from there,” MP Mascarenhas, who organised the operation as the airline’s regional director in the Gulf & Middle East, told Scroll.

so how did they get to Amman Jordan?

Wikipedia link.

Leading daily Times of India reported that Kuwait based Malayali entrepreneur duly supported byHarbajan Singh Vedi, played a stellar role in coordinating the evacuation operation by meeting Indian ambassador in Baghdad and overseeing the transport of thousands of Indians to Amman via Baghdad by bus after striking a deal with Iraqi transporters, Indian authorities and UN.[7]

and yes they made a (slightly fictionalized) movie about it: Airlift... that is being released in 2016.

I sometimes joke that if you want to have an idea how serious things are anywhere in the world, you just check who is  arriving home in Manila from the world's trouble spots.

UPDATE; I just watched the movie which is good.

But you know, although a lot of SH's atrocities in Kuwait were known at the time of Gulf War I, the pacifists "rewrote" history to say these were exaggerated, or that the Kuwatis deserved it, or that the soldiers in retreat who were bombed should have been left go, not killed. (uh, you always destroy fleeing military so they can't turn around and get you, but never mind)

Sadam's soldiers who did make it out later massacred a tens of thousands in Basra, which did not get publicity (except for Clooney's Three Kings), and of course in Gulf war II fled north, morphing to terrorists and later to ISIS.

so maybe  the movie will be panned in the USA, since it shows a hint of what is going on in ISIL territory now...

and of course, getting out 170 thousand people (or 1.7 lakh) is a feat that does need to be remembered by the young.

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