x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

A woman abandoned

The convoluted bureaucracies faced by the poor has cost an Indian housemaid her life after being trapped in diplomatic limbo for five days.

In a tale of bureaucratic incompetence that even Kafka would have struggled to dream up, an Indian housemaid has died from cardiac arrest after she was forced to spend five days in an airport lounge. Tragedy began to unfold for 40-year-old Beebi Lumada, who suffered from mental health problems, after she lost her passport while on a stopover in Doha on her way from Muscat to Chennai. She was repatriated to Oman, where neither her sponsor, nor her country's embassy, came forward with any help.

She later died on her way to the hospital. While none of the responsible parties emerge with any credit, the Indian Embassy in Muscat must bear the brunt of the blame after it transpired that several requests to them by Omani officials were ignored. Their inaction proved fatal. It is astonishing that in this day and age, when a traveller's information is logged into one system or another, such a situation can arise. That she received no help, except from Qatar Airways who provided her meals, highlights the absurd inability of a bureaucracy to adapt to a very straightforward situation of a person in need.

Ms Lumada deserved far better help than she received, in particular at the hands of her embassy. There is no excuse for leaving a traveller stranded for five days. Her death was a tragedy, but their oversight was nothing less than gross negligence.