Syrian Refugee Stranded In An Airport Transit Zone For More Than A Month

VICE News (4/20/18)

For anyone who has complained about being delayed in an airport, spare a thought for Hassan Al Kontar. The Syrian refugee has been stuck in the transit zone of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia since early March.

Al Kontar’s chronicled his story on social media, highlighting similarities to the Tom Hanks film The Terminal. The 36-year-old left Syria for the UAE well before the war started, but when it came time to renew his Syrian passport in 2012 the regime refused, because he hadn’t completed his military service.

He was eventually kicked out of the UAE in 2017 and went to Malaysia, but broke his 90 day visitor visa. Attempts to travel to Ecuador and Cambodia failed too, and Malaysia doesn’t want him back in.

He took VICE News on a guided tour of his new home in the arrivals area, where he sleeps under stairs, and dines on donated airline food.

Malaysia’s government has signaled it might let Al Kontar back in on a special visa for Syrian refugees, but he wants full rights to work, fearing he’ll be stuck in a cycle of statelessness like so many other Syrians displaced by the war.

Link to 5-Minute Video