'Terminal' case | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 13, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 13, 2018

'Terminal' case

Stranded in KL airport for more than a month, Syrian begs for help

A 36-year-old Syrian has been stuck in transit in the Malaysian capital for more than a month, he said, in a case that echoes the Steven Spielberg movie, "The Terminal".

Hassan al-Kontar has posted videos on YouTube describing his plight, which began when he arrived at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport 37 days ago.

He had planned to travel from Malaysia to Ecuador, where he hoped he would be allowed in without a visa, but was turned away from the flight to the South American country despite having a ticket.

Hassan was also barred from entering Cambodia, and neither has he been allowed back into Malaysia -- leaving him stuck in the terminal's transit lounge.

"I feel lonely, weak, unwanted and rejected. No one is accepting me," he said in a YouTube post.

"I do not know what to do. I contacted almost all the human rights organisations. They came back to me and they said they are unable to help.

"They do not have a solution. I do not have a solution."

Kontar added that he was unable to return to Syria as he was wanted by authorities for having refused to serve in the military.

A civil war has been raging in Syria for the past seven years, leaving more than 350,000 people dead.

His case is reminiscent of the 2004 film "The Terminal," in which Tom Hanks plays a man who finds himself stuck in a New York airport after his government collapses, rendering his papers useless.

Reports said Kontar had been working in the United Arab Emirates but was deported to Malaysia in January 2017.

However he overstayed a three-month tourist visa and is now blacklisted, so cannot re-enter the country.

He reportedly flew to Cambodia but was refused entry before being sent back to Kuala Lumpur airport on March 7.

He has been stuck in the budget terminal ever since, surviving on donated airline meals and washing in the airport toilets.

A spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency said the body was "aware of this case and have reached out to the individual and the authorities".

Immigration authorities declined to comment.

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