- A Syrian man says he has been trapped at a Malaysian airport for over a month but cannot leave or travel to other countries because of restrictions placed on Syrian nationals.
- The man has attempted to leave the Kuala Lumpur airport but has overstayed his visa and has been rejected from other countries.
- Several agencies have reached out to find a solution but so far he remains trapped in the international terminal.
It sounds like the plot of a Tom Hanks movie.
A Syrian man says he has been trapped at a Malaysian airport for over a month but cannot leave or travel to other countries because of restrictions placed on Syrian nationals.
Hassan al-Kontar left Syria in 2006 to avoid being drafted into the army and moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for work, according to the BBC, who has spoken to Kontar.
But Kontar’s situation drastically changed following the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011.
Kontar lost his work permit in the UAE 2016, and was deported by UAE authorities to a holding center in Malaysia in January 2017. Malaysia is one of the few countries that offers visas on arrival to Syrian nationals.
He was given a three-month tourist visa, and attempted to save money to travel onwards to Ecuador, which does not require a visa. He booked a flight with Turkish Airways to the South American country, but was rejected at the gate and was not allowed to board. His ticket had apparently been cancelled.
“I found myself back at square one,” he told the BBC.
What dose it mean to be a #Syrian.
My name is Hassan and this is my #story #trendingchallenge #Trending #syria #hope #lifequotes #humanrace #storyteller #funnymemes #Canada #TVD #news #old #lifestyle #photography #photo #ecuador #Australia #Airport #instagram #free pic.twitter.com/HCTZEnZxTB
— Hassan Al Kontar (@Kontar81) March 22, 2018
With limited resources and shrinking options, Kontar booked a flight to Cambodia, which grants Syrians visas on arrival in most cases. When he arrived he was prohibited from entering and had his passport confiscated, he told the BBC. Cambodian officials told the Phnom Penh Post that Syrians could be turned away if they did not meet government “requirements.”
Kontar was forced to return to Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2), the low-cost carrier terminal, on March 7. He says Malaysia made him pay a fine for “overstaying” his tourist visa and was then “blacklisted,” meaning he cannot leave the terminal to enter the country.
He has been stuck in diplomatic limbo ever since, documenting his struggles on Twitter.
What dose it mean to be a Syrian.. My story#airport_is_my_home #syrian_stuck_at_airport @tomhanks #Syria @guardian @TheEconomist @AP @TIME @washingtonpost @nytimes #Rampage #Trump #KeerthySuresh #BlackBuck #AvengersInfinityWar #AvengersInfinityWar #MTVBRKPOPEXO #Mercury pic.twitter.com/WiSWuuEZtS
— Hassan Al Kontar (@Kontar81) April 5, 2018
Kontar says he’s surviving on a limited diet of airline food and sleeps on the floor of the terminal. He says he cannot return to Syria because it has a warrant out for his arrest.
“I’m desperate for help. I can’t live in this airport any longer. The uncertainty is driving me crazy. It feels like my life hit a new low,” he told the BBC.
Kontar told the BBC that airport customer service officials and UN officials had been in touch, and Malaysia’s deputy home minister said on Friday the country will vet Kontar for a spot in its Syrian Refugee Programme.
“I don’t know what to do. I have no-one to advise me on where I can go. I really need help because I believe the worst is yet to come,” he told the BBC.
Business Insider has reached out to Kontar for comment.
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