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Glimmer of hope for man stuck at airport for nearly two months

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LONDON — Stranded in a overseas airport for almost 60 days, making an attempt to not lose hope of ever getting out.

That’s the truth for Hassan al Kontar, 36, a Syrian who has been caught on the Kuala Lumpur world airport since March 7.

Earlier than a civil conflict broke out in Syria in 2011, al Kontar was once dwelling what can be thought to be a typical existence. A local of Sweida, a town about 60 miles south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, al Kontar labored as an insurance coverage advertising and marketing supervisor within the United Arab Emirates.

Then, with hostilities escalating, he was once summoned for army carrier in his house nation. After refusing to go back and sign up for the army, he says the Syrian embassy within the UAE declined to resume his passport in 2012. That intended his paintings allow couldn’t be renewed both, so al Kontar misplaced his process and went into hiding within the UAE for the following six years.

“I’m truly drained,” he mentioned. “I stay shouting that I’m really not a foul man, I’m really not a coward — I will be able to struggle, however it’s no longer my struggle. It’s any individual else’s struggle in my land.”

Al Kontar says he realizes there are Syrians in some distance worse eventualities, however his quandary has been mentally arduous.

He was once apprehended through UAE government ultimate 12 months and says he struggled to steer clear of deportation again to Syria. Al Kontar, who was once ready to resume his passport ultimate 12 months, was once in the end despatched to Malaysia — one of the most few international locations to just accept Syrian voters and not using a visa for as much as 90 days.

After his makes an attempt to procure an everlasting visa there failed, he determined to visit Ecuador, any other nation that accepts Syrians and not using a visa. However he says his flight was once canceled on the ultimate minute through Turkish Airways. He attempted going to Cambodia, however was once despatched again to the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, in early March, and has been stranded there since.

Image: Hassan Al Kontar has been stuck at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 59 days.
Hassan Al Kontar has been caught at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 59 days. Hassan Al Kontar

Al Kontar’s time on the airport has been difficult. He has get admission to to 2 bogs and a ready space within the transit segment of the airport. AirAsia, the airline that took him again to Malaysia, supplies him with 3 airline foods an afternoon.

Throughout the primary few days on the airport, he slept at the chairs within the ready space, however has now moved to sleep at the flooring below a stairwell.

For weeks he has faced elementary logistical dilemmas comparable to the place to take a bath, blank his garments and the place to dry them — documenting his day by day existence on his Twitter account.

Just about two months into his ordeal, his struggles proceed. “The day by day regimen is identical, not anything has modified,” al Kontar mentioned.

Image: The area of the airport accessible to Hassan Al Kontar at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The world of the airport available to Hassan Al Kontar on the Kuala Lumpur Global Airport.Hassan Al Kontar

He says he tries to stick sure, as a result of “differently, it’s higher to die” — as he spoke with NBC Information, the disappointment in his voice was once punctuated through the chimes of airport bulletins.

He says he can’t depart the airport as a result of he was once “blacklisted” for 5 years through Malaysian government for at the beginning overstaying his visa. Returning to Syria isn’t an possibility both as he says he’s vulnerable to be arrested for evading army carrier.

After his tweets attracted the eye of world media, al Kontar says Malaysia gave him a short lived one-month go into the rustic. It could permit him to go away the airport, however whilst he’s grateful for it, al Kontar says it’s a short lived repair, without a long-term possibilities.

“I’m a highly-qualified skilled — determined for a spot the place I will be able to be protected, felony, no longer having a look over my shoulder or being at the run … a spot the place I will be able to paintings and turn out myself.”

Malaysia Airports, the corporate that manages the airport in Kuala Lumpur, is conscious about al Kontar’s case, which is now being treated through Malaysian immigration government referred to as “Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia,” or JIM.

“JIM has knowledgeable us that they’re tracking the placement carefully and feature taken vital steps in managing the placement,” Malaysia Airports mentioned. “Malaysia Airports will give complete cooperation to the related government in serving to to get to the bottom of this example.”

The United Countries Refugee Company mentioned it has additionally been in contact with al Kontar and continues to interact with the Malaysian government on his case, including “affordable help” has been presented for him to go into the rustic through the Malaysian govt.

A lot of the media protection of his ordeal attracts comparisons to the movie “The Terminal,” during which Tom Hanks’s persona is caught at New York’s Kennedy Airport. However al Kontar says that relating to a Hollywood film, which might replicate the precariousness of his state of affairs, takes clear of his plight and the fight of the Syrian folks, who he says are “paying the cost of the conflict [they] don’t have anything to do with.”

Over five.6 million folks have fled Syria since 2011, in line with the U.N. Refugee Company.


There is one beacon of hope remaining for al Kontar: A group of volunteers in Canada are determined to get him out of Malaysia.

The group has crowdfunded for him, arranged for sponsorship and filed all the necessary paperwork to apply for a temporary resident permit that would allow him to legally travel to Canada.

His application was submitted last week, and now all he can do is wait. He has also asked his Twitter followers to reach out to Canada’s immigration minister to drum up support for his case.

Al Kontar mentioned he feels Canada is his most effective likelihood out now. “If I lose that hope, I don’t know what to do,” he mentioned. “I don’t need to call to mind the chance that it’s no longer going to occur as a result of I might damage down.”

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