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This Syrian Man Is Tweeting For Help After Being Stranded In A Malaysian Airport For A Month


Hassan Al-Kontar, 36, is a Syrian man from a small town roughly 100km south of the capital, Damascus.

Hassan al Kontar

Since March 7, he has been living in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport. “I have lost count actually, because it is useless counting,” he told AngleNews.

He has been live tweeting his experiences, filming himself to tell the world why he is stuck in the airport.

“When I wake up I face two types of problems,” he said, sharing a photo of where he sleeps. “I don’t have a normal person’s morning.”

"Cleaning is tricky. To take a shower I use the special needs facility because people don’t go in there too much," he explained. "Now I have clean clothes, so it is better than the first month, but once I was [so] dirty and it annoyed me [so much] I could not sleep. My clothes stank."

Hassan al Kontar / AngleNews

“Cleaning is tricky. To take a shower I use the special needs facility because people don’t go in there too much,” he explained. “Now I have clean clothes, so it is better than the first month, but once I was [so] dirty and it annoyed me [so much] I could not sleep. My clothes stank.”

Everyday, he has a meal provided to him by Asia Airlines, as he’s currently in their terminal.

Al-Kontar said the airline has accepted some responsibility for him, so they will continue feeding him every day. AngleNews has contacted Air Asia for comment. "It’s the same thing every day, it is the same meal. Sometimes, every two or three days, I buy a hamburger, just to change the mood. "Even a cup of coffee is a challenge, you know? I don’t have access to a restaurant here or coffee shops so I simply have to ask the workers, who are cleaning the toilets or the floors, just to bring me a cup of coffee, which may take an hour, or a few hours."

Hassan al Kontar / AngleNews

Al-Kontar said the airline has accepted some responsibility for him, so they will continue feeding him every day. AngleNews has contacted Air Asia for comment.

“It’s the same thing every day, it is the same meal. Sometimes, every two or three days, I buy a hamburger, just to change the mood.

“Even a cup of coffee is a challenge, you know? I don’t have access to a restaurant here or coffee shops so I simply have to ask the workers, who are cleaning the toilets or the floors, just to bring me a cup of coffee, which may take an hour, or a few hours.”

This is how far he can walk. He doesn’t have a boarding pass so he can’t go beyond checkpoints in and out of the airport.

Hassan al-Kontar / AngleNews

This is Al-Kontar’s view. He sits here every morning. “I [have] become less hopeful,” he said. “I have no-one.”

AngleNews has attempted to contact Malaysia Airports for comment.

Hassan al-Kontar / AngleNews

AngleNews has attempted to contact Malaysia Airports for comment.

Al-Kontar explains how this all came to pass. “Small issues, issues that you never thought would be an issue in your life but all of a sudden become a huge problem,” he said from the airport.

Hassan al Kontar

Al-Kontar’s issues started in 2011, when the Syrian civil war broke out.

He was in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), working as an insurance marketing manager. His passport expired and because he had not served in the military in Syria, he was unable to get a new one, effectively becoming a illegal immigrant overnight.

“After that I was in the solar energy field because I could not have a legal visa, so I was working part-time in solar energy fields. I became an expert in that!”

However, he was eventually detained by UAE authorities last year after attempting to renew his passport. Officials said he could either go to Syria – or to Malaysia, which is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t require a visa ahead of arrival.

But it wasn’t that simple. He tried to book another flight – using nearly all of his savings – to Ecuador, which admits Syrian refugees, and has a path to residency.

“But the Turkish airline did not allow me to board and they cancelled my ticket at the last minute.”

The next time, he tried to fly to Cambodia, another country that technically can allow Syrian refugees a visa on arrival. But this time it was the Cambodian authorities that were the problem, refusing to let him into the country, and stating that refugees needed to meet certain (unclear) “requirements”, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

So Al-Kontar was put back on a plane to Malaysia: “I am stuck here again.”

AngleNews has contacted Turkish Airlines for comment.

“But the Turkish airline did not allow me to board and they cancelled my ticket at the last minute.”

The next time, he tried to fly to Cambodia, another country that technically can allow Syrian refugees a visa on arrival. But this time it was the Cambodian authorities that were the problem, refusing to let him into the country, and stating that refugees needed to meet certain (unclear) “requirements”, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

So Al-Kontar was put back on a plane to Malaysia: “I am stuck here again.”

AngleNews has contacted Turkish Airlines for comment.

Al-Kontar said he misses everything about his country. Asked who he missed the most, he responded: “I can’t answer that. I miss them all, the living and the dead ones.”

He has not seen his family since December 2008, when he left to work in the UAE. “They are safe. They have their own problems they need to solve, [but] they are worrying,” he said.

“Since 2011 we are facing this new type of racism, it is not about religion, or colour anymore, it is about Syrian or non-Syrian. It is about us as a people, rich and poor.”

He tries to stay hopeful, but his options are limited – and worrying. He needs to get a visa to a country, or a temporary residency visa for Malaysia. In the worst case scenario he is sent back to Syria, where he could face imprisonment as a result of him never doing military service. "They will force me to join the military and fight...after investigating me for god knows how long."

AngleNews

He tries to stay hopeful, but his options are limited – and worrying. He needs to get a visa to a country, or a temporary residency visa for Malaysia. In the worst case scenario he is sent back to Syria, where he could face imprisonment as a result of him never doing military service.

“They will force me to join the military and fight…after investigating me for god knows how long.”





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