This Syrian Refugee Has Been Stuck In A Malaysian Airport For 50 Days

The Guardian- A Syrian man has spent more than a month living in a corner of a Malaysian airport – sleeping under stairwells and showering in toilets – after being left stranded by airlines and immigration officials.

Hassan al-Kontar, 36, fears being arrested in his home country for refusing a call-up for military service, and has been forced to make the transit section of Kuala Lumpur airport his new home for the past 37 days.

“I don’t know what to say or what to do. I need a solution, I need a safe place where I can be legally, with work,” he said. “Syria is out of the question, even if I am staying here forever. I don’t want to be part of the fight, I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t want to be killed as well. It’s not my war.”

Kontar cannot wash his clothes properly and showers in a toilet for travellers with disabilities. “I use it after midnight, [when] less people are there.”

If you’ve never seen the Tom Hanks’ movie The Terminal, it’s worth a watch. It’s about a guy who faces this same scenario and shows how someone stranded at an airport can turn the place into a home. And just like Tom Hanks, Hassna Al Kontar appears to be making the most of his shitty situation at Kuala Lumpur airport. He’s up to his ears in all the airplane meals he can eat, and as much as airplane food gets a bad rap, I actually love it. He built himself a nice little cave using the janitor barriers, and he has his choice between the master bathroom (handicapped) and the communal bathroom. He’s got 6,600 twitter followers and he posts vlogs all day like a miserable YouTube star. All in all, doesn’t seem too bad, right? It’s certainly better than playing hopscotch over land mines, wearing gas masks and playing soccer with goat heads in Syria.


Having said that, Hassan’s airport and terminal are probably AWFUL. I’ll bet there’s no air-conditioning and that birds flap around inside like it’s a goddamn zoo. Being stranded at the Indianapolis Airport is one thing (h/t IND); being stuck in Malaysia is another nightmare altogether.

In all my travels, I would say the best terminal to be stuck in would be terminal 4 at JFK. They have a Buffalo Wild Wings, a Blue Smoke, McDonald’s, a fancy seafood place in case you meet a date while you’re stranded, a Jamba Juice, and a fucking SHAKE SHACK! There are plenty of designer clothing stores so you can purchase new threads once you run through whatever you packed in your carry-on. Hell, you’ll look better than you did when your country burned to the ground! They also have plenty of handicapped bathrooms, which you need for a sink shower and also when the mood strikes, which it will because you’ll have a LOT of down time. And finally, there are tons of moving walkways which are super fun. You can walk in the wrong direction, staring at the people who pass on the other side, matching the pace of the walkway and moving nowhere–a perfect metaphor for your current situation. Befriend the guys that ferry old people on the flashing carts and ride around like the king of the terminal. Start a purely-physical relationship with the Asian lady who works in that ridiculous massage store, Spa Services. As you sit with your face in the donut and she kneads your back like a baker, you’ll trail off to your happy place and forget that you’re marooned in an airport that causes more misery and anger than the war-torn country from whence you fled.