Hasan Ahmad’s family has been living inside Terminal E at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport for over 40 days, the BBC reports.
The Syrian Kurdish family of six recently fled their home in northern Iraq after ISIS militants kept coming closer. The family decided to flee to Russia where Ahmad’s wife has family.
But the nightmare began as soon as they got to the airport.
At first, they were put in detention for two weeks after the Russian authorities claimed they were using fake Syrian passports and illegally trying to cross into Russia, according to the BBC.
Most of the family had Iraqi passports, but the two youngest children, who are 3 and 7 years old, got Syrian ones through Hasan’s nationality.
Their asylum request was rejected because of the allegedly fake Syrian passports, though Syrian officials have since confirmed they are genuine, according to ABC.
The family is appealing the decision, but in the meantime they are stuck at the airport because they’re not allowed to step on Russian soil.
The Ahmads have since been living in an old glass smoking area surrounded by the few bags they brought with them.
The situation stressed Ahmad’s wife, Gulistan, so much that a couple of weeks ago she collapsed and had to be rushed to hospital, where two guards were positioned outside her ward, according to the BBC.
“We left our homes, everything. We just wanted to live in peace like other people. But they refused us asylum. They said this is not Europe,” Gulistan told the BBC.
Now all the family can do is wait, not knowing when or if their appeal will be processed and having to depend on the generosity of strangers for food and warm clothes. The UN also brings them big water bottles every five days.
The situation has only gotten worse recently. According to the BBC, the heaters stopped working over two weeks ago, making it even harder for the family to stay warm and dry.
“I don’t know how people can be so heartless. I don’t understand. People are fleeing from war, from violence,” Ahmad told the BBC.
The civil war raging in Syria — as well as ISIS’ reign of terror in different parts of Iraq — have displaced millions of people from those countries. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Europe and other countries, and many have yet to find a permanent home.
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