Syrian Man Living in Malaysian Airport for 7 Months Will Be Deported

Oct 2, 2018

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A man from Syria who had been living in a Malaysian Airport for almost seven months has been removed by police, authorities say.

Hassan al-Kontar was placed in police custody after having lived in the Kuala Lumpur (KUL) airport since March. Kontar originally left Syria to avoid compulsory military service and refused to return after the nation’s civil war ignited in 2011. He became stranded in the Malaysian airport months ago while trying to seek asylum, and he could not leave the airport or go to a different country due to travel restrictions placed on Syrian citizens.

On Tuesday, the airport told the BBC that Kontar was “no longer” in the terminal.

“Passengers at the boarding area are supposed to get on their flights but this man did not do so,” Malaysia’s head of immigration, Mustafar Ali, told local media. “He is situated in a forbidden zone and we had to take the necessary action.”

Ali said that Kontar would be questioned by police then passed onto the nation’s immigration authorities. “We will then communicate with the Syrian embassy to facilitate deportation to his home country,” Ali said.

Kontar left Syria for a job in the United Arab Emirates in 2006. He lost his UAE work permit in 2016 and was deported. He was sent to a holding area in Malaysia in January 2017.

Upon arrival in Malaysia, one of the few countries that gives visas to Syrian citizens, Kontar was given a three-month tourist visa. During that time, he worked to save money to fly to Ecuador, a country where he wouldn’t need a visa to stay. However, when he tried to board his Turkish Airways flight to Ecuador, he found his ticket had been canceled and he was rejected for boarding.

He also tried entering Cambodia, where Syrians are usually granted a visa, but was denied entrance upon arrival to the country. His passport was confiscated, and officials told him they could reject Syrian citizens who don’t meet government “requirements.” Kontar was forced to return to Malaysia, where he had been stranded in the airport (KUL) since March 7.

His exact whereabouts are currently unknown.

Featured image by Hassan al-Kontar via Twitter.

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