Tales of fear, hunger and a fading resistance in Kuwait accompanied a group of former hostages who arrived on a U.S.-chartered flight from Iraq Monday, leaving many family members behind.
Some of the passengers said Kuwaitis and foreigners are well aware of the military buildup in the Persian Gulf and hope for an invasion."People are starving and they need food, but people who have food are frightened of giving it to them because they would be accused as collaborators," said an American woman who believes her husband is still hiding somewhere in Kuwait.
"We prayed every night that we would wake up in the morning," she said.
The 136 passengers who arrived at London's Gatwick airport early Monday had been in Kuwait since the Aug. 2 Iraqi invasion. They included 75 Americans, mainly of Arab descent or married to Arabs.
A number of women carried babies and were draped in gray blankets over lightweight clothes. Most passengers would not talk to reporters because they feared for relatives left behind.
"The time has come to give these people (the Kuwaitis) their right to freedom. All we have heard of is the peaceful solution. We are tired of that," said the American woman.
Salameh Salen, 31, a Jordanian-born American, said the Kuwaiti resistance to Iraqi forces had been "fairly strong," but is now dwindling.
A Palestinian doctor, who said he had six children living in Maryland and had been working in Kuwait, described the Iraqi troops as "tough" and said the resistance appeared to be "almost collapsing."
He said after the invasion he was able to go out to wait in line for food. At home he passed the time listening to the radio, following developments via the BBC news.
Gatwick officials said the passengers included 12 Canadians, 12 Britons, 10 New Zealanders, eight Germans, seven Irish, six Australians, two Danes, two South Africans, one Polish woman and a French citizen.
"We all went through situations where we didn't know if we would get out, particularly in the early days of the invasion and the disorder and looting," said New Zealander Alastair Lane.
He said many reports of Iraqi abuses in Kuwait were true, but some were exaggerated.
"Iraqi troops 90 percent of the time are pretty good," Lane said.
"The British and the U.S. can't go outside. They've been inside for 31/2 months. Some are probably at the end of their tether. They can't keep their lights on at night. They can't even go out of their front door," Lane said.