Recently, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) has once again become the media’s focus of attention.
According to The Guardian, a 36-year-old Syrian man has reportedly spent more than a month living in KLIA2, after he was left short on money and stranded by immigration officials.
Hassan Al Kontar has been using Twitter to share his story to the world, recording multiple videos of his day-to-day life living in the bustling airport. Hassan explained in one of his videos that he left Syria 8 years ago, and a warrant has since been issued for his arrest for refusing a call-up for military service.
He told the news portal,
“It’s not only my problem. It’s the problem of hundreds of Syrian guys who feel they are hated, rejected, unwanted, weak, lonely.”
The Syrian national was living and working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 2006 until 2011, when the Syrian civil war began and caused him to lose his work permit.
According to Coconuts, the UAE refused to renew his residency visa, so he continued to live there illegally for a while. However, in 2016, he was caught and sent to a deportation facility, which led to him being forwarded to Malaysia in January 2017.
However, he overstayed his three-month visa-free period. He then boarded a flight from KL to Ecuador in February 2018, where he hoped his immigration problems would end. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to enter the South American nation at the last minute, and had to board a flight to Cambodia, where he was not allowed to enter once again. Finally, without much other options or money, Hassan had to return to KL, but faced the same dilemma and was not allowed to enter Malaysia.
Fast forward to the present day, Hassan has been stranded in KLIA2 for 37 days. He told The Guardian,
“I don’t know what to say or what to do. I need a solution, I need a safe place where I can be legally, with work. Syria is out of the question, even if I am staying here forever.”
“I don’t want to be part of the fight, I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t want to be killed as well. It’s not my war.”
He has resorted to sleeping under stairwells and using the airport’s toilets to shower and wash his clothes in the middle of the night, when there are not many people around.
Since getting stranded at the airport, Hassan has been documenting his time here by uploading videos to Twitter and e-mailing various human rights groups for help.
Meanwhile, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch has since called on Malaysian authorities to grant United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR) full access so that they can investigate Hassan’s refugee status and assist him. He told the news portal,
“Malaysian authorities continue to say they are concerned about the bloodshed and horror being inflicted on civilians in Syria’s ongoing civil war, but cases like Hassan Kontar’s will demonstrate whether Malaysia is prepared to back that rhetoric with real action.”
Since then, the UNHCR has recently visited Hassan. The Syrian national told Coconuts,
“They (UNHCR) are going to study the file but they have no time period or no guarantee about the result… so I don’t know how long this may take, and it may take long time.”
We can only hope that the local authorities do their best to help Hassan with his situation so that he doesn’t have to remain stranded at the airport anymore.
Read The Guardian’s full article here.
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