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A Syrian Man Has Been Trapped in a Malaysian Airport for Over a Month

April 13, 2018
3 min read
A Syrian Man Has Been Trapped in a Malaysian Airport for Over a Month
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A man from Syria has been stranded inside Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) in Malaysia for more than a month, and he still has nowhere to go. He cannot leave the airport or go to a different country due to travel restrictions place on Syrian citizens.

The man, Hassan al-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.

Kontar was then charged a fine for "overstaying" and has been "blacklisted" in Malaysia, so he is not allowed to leave the airport or enter the country again, the BBC reports.

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 has been stranded in the airport (KUL) since March 7. He began posting videos about his situation from the airport terminal.

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Kontar told the BBC that airport customer service officials and representatives from the UN have reached out to him. "The authorities here are interviewing me, and I have filled out some reports," he said. "I don't know what to do. I have no-one to advise me on where I can go. I really need help because I believe the worst is yet to come."

Kontar said that he hasn't had a proper shower and has run out of clean clothes.

In a statement to the BBC, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the organization was aware of Kontar's situation and it has "reached out to the individual and the authorities."