Afraid To Go Home, Zimbabwean Family Spends Months In Airport

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Too afraid of civil unrest to return home, the Zimbabwean family has been stranded in Bangkok’s airport after fleeing President Robert Mugabe’s authoritarianism.

Many Zimbabwean families fled their country in an attempt to escape former President Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian rule. After he was ousted by the military in November, however, it seemed like they may return home, but one family has not.

Refusing to return home in fear of anticipated civil unrest, one Zimbabwean family has been stranded in Bangkok’s airport for months. The scenario parallels that of the movie “Terminal” starring Tom Hanks in which his character, too, is stranded in an airport.

Before the coup occurred, the family arrived in Bangkok in May. Thailand is appealing for many travelers, especially those fleeing oppression, due to its visa-on-arrival program.

The family participated in this program, but once that visa term was up, they were no longer allowed to stay. They also could not go to any countries that require them to apply for visas before arrival. Unable to get to Spain like they had originally planned, and too afraid to return home, they have been stranded in Bangkok ever since. 

It has not been as bad as one may suspect, though. There’s been an outpouring of sympathy and hospitality for the family. Airlines have apparently brought the family food, and one set of Thai travelers purchased a Christmas gift for the children.  

As for the family’s plans for the future? They are hoping to achieve refugee status with the United Nations and find a place to go so they can get out of the airport without having to return to Zimbabwe.

On the surface, the scenario this family is living is heartbreaking, but the airport community of employees and travelers who have offered support to them demonstrates how strong the power of humanity can be when people spread love instead of hate.   

Banner/thumbnail credit: Pixabay, MichaelGaida

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