@hassan_alkontar (instagram)

Hassan Al-Kontar is a Syrian Refugee stuck in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, a budget airline terminal, for 5 months.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia.

Al-Kontar recently spoke to Vice UK to discuss his story.

In 2006, Hassan Al-Kontar emigrated from Syria to the United Arab Emirates. His troubles began when the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011. He was called back to Syria to serve in the military.

But Al-Kontar refused.

"I refused because there is no clear enemy here."
"That is not why I was born into this life. That is not my existence."
"I refused to be a part of the killing machine to destroy my own house. I refused, like thousands of Syrians."

In January of 2012, his passport ran out. Because he did not complete his military service, he was ineligible to apply for a new one. This caused him to be terminated from his job and thus began his many years of homelessness and statelessness.

In January of 2017, he was caught living in the UAE without a passport, but a former colleague was somehow able to renew his passport for two years, freeing him from jail.

Authorities tried to send him back to Syria, but Al-Kontar was able to convince them to send him to Malaysia—one of the few countries that grants Syrians visa-on-arrival.

The visa granted him stay for 3 months, but in those months he was unable to find a job causing him to overstay by a month. His family sent him money to pay the overstay fine and to extend his visa by two more weeks.

In those two weeks, he attempted to leave Malaysia twice.

The first time, he tried to fly through Istanbul to Ecuador, another visa-on-arrival country, via Turkish Airlines. However, the airline prevented Al-Kontar from boarding the flight and have yet to refund him or provide comment.

The second attempt was an AirAsia flight to Cambodia. Hassan successfully arrived in Cambodia only to be told he did not qualify for a visa. He was sent back to Malaysia

On March 7, as he arrived back at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Hassan realized that by going through immigration he would be deported back to Syria. Thus began his nearly 6 month stay at KLIA2.

His unimaginable period of statelessness and nearly half-year airport captivity inspired Al-Kontar to study international human rights. He feels like he has been failed by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), who he says offered him a one-month special pass for Malaysia, despite him being blacklisted.

However, for Hassan this is not a real solution as Malaysia did not sign the 1951 Refugee Convention which outlines a refugee's rights and the legal obligations of States to protect them.

But a UNHCR spokesperson from Kuala Lumpur claimed they have done much more.

"Both UNHCR and the Government of Malaysia have reached out to this individual on a number of occasions. He has been offered reasonable support and assistance to enter Malaysia, which would then allow UNHCR and others to consider his situation in more detail and to explore possible solutions for him."
"Clear offers of support and assistance in Malaysia have been communicated to the individual, and so far he has chosen to not accept. It appears that Malaysia is a place of transit for him and not a place where he wishes to remain."
"We understand that he is considering his options."

Al-Kontar took to Facebook, however, to dispute the United Nation's claims.

In the video, Al-Kontar said:

"These guys [Malaysia UNHCR] are not only not helping me, they are actually damaging me, betraying and stab me on the back [sic] by their false claims and accusations just to clear their names."

He continued:

"They are blocking other NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and embassies from reaching me to offer help."

He concluded his speech saying that he sent an email with evidence demanding an investigation into Malaysia UNHCR but has yet to receive a response.

Many people are outraged at the obstacles Hassan Al-Kontar has been fighting. Some have even proposed marriage to him, trying to help him obtain a visa.

He has received offers from the Miami, Australia, Canada, Tahiti, Hawaii, EU countries, and even the Maldives.

Al-Kontar was touched by people's willingness to help him, but he wants legal status.

"This is illegal itself to be married for visa purposes. All that I am asking for is to be legal."
"It's a fraud itself!"
"But it's the only way they can help and they are offering some help, which is a great thing."

While not everyone was ready to change their relationship status for him, people from all over the world are wishing Hassan their best and hoping he can find legal status somewhere safe.

@jimmy_future (Instagram)

@jlprdl (Instagram)

@ninamolinna (Instagram)

Al-Kontar currently awaits news about his application to Canada. His hope is to be granted legal access to a country that is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

H/T: Vice, Facebook, Instagram

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