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

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LONDON — Stranded in a international airport for just about 60 days, attempting 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 global airport since March 7.

Ahead of a civil conflict broke out in Syria in 2011, al Kontar used to be residing what can be thought to be a standard lifestyles. 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 used to be summoned for army provider 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 actually drained,” he stated. “I stay shouting that I’m really not a foul man, I’m really not a coward — I will be able to battle, but it surely’s no longer my battle. It’s any person else’s battle in my land.”

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

He used to be apprehended by means of UAE government final 12 months and says he struggled to keep away from deportation again to Syria. Al Kontar, who used to be ready to resume his passport final 12 months, used to be sooner or later despatched to Malaysia — probably the most few nations to simply accept Syrian electorate and not using a visa for as much as 90 days.

After his makes an attempt to procure an enduring visa there failed, he determined to visit Ecuador, every other nation that accepts Syrians and not using a visa. However he says his flight used to be canceled on the final minute by means of Turkish Airways. He attempted going to Cambodia, however used to be 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 entry to to 2 toilets and a ready house within the transit segment of the airport. AirAsia, the airline that took him again to Malaysia, supplies him with 3 airline foods an afternoon.

All over the primary few days on the airport, he slept at the chairs within the ready house, however has now moved to sleep at the ground underneath a stairwell.

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

Just about two months into his ordeal, his struggles proceed. “The day-to-day regimen is similar, not anything has modified,” al Kontar stated.

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

He says he tries to stick sure, as a result of “in a different way, it’s higher to die” — as he spoke with NBC Information, the disappointment in his voice used to be punctuated by means of the chimes of airport bulletins.

He says he can’t depart the airport as a result of he used to be “blacklisted” for 5 years by means of Malaysian government for in the beginning overstaying his visa. Returning to Syria isn’t an choice both as he says he’s susceptible to be arrested for evading army provider.

After his tweets attracted the eye of global media, al Kontar says Malaysia gave him a short lived one-month cross into the rustic. It could permit him to depart the airport, however whilst he’s grateful for it, al Kontar says it’s a short lived repair, with out a long-term possibilities.

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

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

“JIM has knowledgeable us that they’re tracking the location carefully and feature taken essential steps in managing the location,” Malaysia Airports stated. “Malaysia Airports will give complete cooperation to the related government in serving to to unravel this case.”

The United Countries Refugee Company stated it has additionally been involved with al Kontar and continues to have interaction with the Malaysian government on his case, including “affordable help” has been presented for him to go into the rustic by means of the Malaysian govt.

A lot of the media protection of his ordeal attracts comparisons to the movie “The Terminal,” through which Tom Hanks’s persona is caught at New York’s Kennedy Airport. However al Kontar says that regarding a Hollywood film, which would possibly mirror the precariousness of his scenario, takes clear of his plight and the battle 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 keeping 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 stated he feels Canada is his handiest probability out now. “If I lose that hope, I don’t know what to do,” he stated. “I don’t need to recall to mind the likelihood that it’s no longer going to occur as a result of I would possibly spoil down.”

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