Syrian Man Stuck At Airport: 'People Look At Us Now As Terrorists'

The Syrian man has been stuck at the airport for over a month since he was not allowed to board planes to different countries. Now, he said he fears for the future.

The story of a Syrian man stuck in a Malaysian airport reminds us just how terribly refugees from Middle Eastern countries are being treated everywhere.

Hassan al Kontar, 36, claimed he could be arrested in Syria for refusing to join the country’s military. But for the past 37 days, he has been living in another type of "prison" as he's stuck in the Kuala Lumpur airport, unable to board any plane.

"I don't know how long I will be here. I know of some Syrian people who were stuck in the airport for a year," he said.

While he tries to figure out what to do, all that is left for him is to simply sleep in the terminal and live on airport food.

According to Sky News, the man arrived in Malaysia in January 2017. With an initial visa of three months, he ended up staying longer after being deported from the United Arab Emirates. In February 2018, as he was readying to travel to Ecuador where he doesn’t need a visa, he was turned away. He then tried going to Cambodia, but he was also kept from boarding.

While in the UAE, he worked in marketing and energy before the Syrian war started in 2011. Since then, he said, things have been much more difficult.

"Since 2011, no one wants us," he explained. "We are rejected, lonely, hated. People look at us now as terrorists."

While at the airport, he started uploading videos online to tell his story. He also contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and asked for help.

Phil Robertson, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said that he hopes things get resolved quickly for Kontar.

“If he's found to be a refugee, it's urgent that Malaysia permit him to seek third country resettlement without hindrance,” he explained.

Kontar, who is unable to shower or wash his clothes in the airport, is not just feeling lonely and scared for himself. He also fears for the future of his country, thinking that another bombing campaign from the United States won’t do anything to help.

“How many messages did they send before," he asked. "Did they stop [Syrian President Bashar al Assad] doing whatever he wants? He's not going to pay attention. He's winning, he's gaining ground. No one is hearing us.”

The UNHCR has contacted the Malaysian authorities over Kontar's situation.

It’s incredibly disheartening to see an individual stuck in limbo, and it’s even more alarming as many other Syrians like him are suffering tremendously to find a peaceful place to live.


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