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Syrian "stuck in transit" in KL for more than a month in Malaysia

Posted : 11:13 PM Oct 05,2018 by ICPFJ
Serial Number : icpfj000154436
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Syrian "stuck in transit" in KL for more than a month in Malaysia

Twitter and Facebook that has attracted the attention of human rights groups and the media.


PUTRAJAYA - The Syrian man who made KLIA2 his home since March has refused refuge offers in Malaysia and other countries, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman.

Azis said Hassan Al Kontar had insisted that he only wanted asylum from Canada but that his application would take as long as two years to be approved.

"We cannot let him stay at the airport for two years. He also refused to go to other countries that were willing to accept him as a refugee. A few countries told us that they were okay to accept him. We thought that he could accept these offers and when his application to Canada is approved, he can then go there. But he turned them down.

"That is the problem," he told reporters at the National Registration Department here yesterday.

"We will let the police investigate this matter first," he said.

Hassan is currently in police custody after he was detained on Monday for being in a forbidden zone and remanded for 14 days.

The Immigration Department had said that Hassan would probably be deported back to Syria after police had finished their investigation.

Hassan however refused to return to his home country claiming that he feared he would have to serve the army in the war.

The 36-year-old had been stuck in transit at KLIA2 since March. He gained online fame when he posted videos of his life at the airport terminal on social media, which subsequently attracted the attention of human rights groups and the media.

Hassan's plight also drew comparisons with Tom Hank's character in the 2004 film The Terminal, which was directed by Steven Spielberg.

"I don't want to be a killing machine, destroying my own home and harming my own people."

Reuters could not independently verify his account. Malaysia's immigration department and the airport did not respond to requests for comment.

The UN refugee agency confirmed meeting Hassan, but said it could not comment on individual cases.

"UNHCR is aware of this case and have reached out to the individual and the authorities," Yante Ismail, the agency's spokeswoman in Kuala Lumpur, said in a statement.

A former insurance salesman, Hassan said he was living in the United Arab Emirates when war broke out in Syria. He was deported to Kuala Lumpur in 2016, he said, after the Syrian embassy in the UAE refused to renew his passport.

"They deported me to Malaysia as it's one of a very few countries which allows Syrians with no visa," he said.

It took him more than a year before he raised enough to buy a flight ticket to Ecuador, but the airline refused to board him. He did not say how he raised the money.

He tried instead to fly to Cambodia, he said, but was again rejected by immigration authorities and deported back to Kuala Lumpur.

He has been living in KLIA2's transit zone for 37 days, he said, depending on the kindness of airport and airline staff for food and supplies.

"Things you never thought about as a problem become a problem in this situation," he said.

"Where can you take a shower? What time? If you want to clean your clothes, where will you dry them?"

In the 2004 film, "The Terminal", Tom Hanks plays an Eastern European traveller stuck in New York's JFK airport after his passport was revoked following a coup back home.

That film was inspired by the true story of an Iranian man who lived in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for 16 years.

 Rohan menon

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