Home Minister: Syrian Man Insisted On Going To Canada Despite Offers To Stay In Malaysia

"We cannot let him stay at the airport for two years."

The Syrian man, who had been living in klia2 since March, has reportedly refused offers to stay in Malaysia

Image via Abc news

36-year-old Hassan al-Kontar has been stranded at the Malaysian airport for eight months in order to avoid mandatory military service back in Syria.

Malaysia is one of the few countries that offers tourist visas to Syrian refugees.

On 1 October, Hassan was arrested by authorities because he was found at a "forbidden area" where passengers board planes.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman said Hassan had refused to stay in Malaysia or go to other countries that had offered him shelter as a refugee

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman.

Image via Free Malaysia Today

The Syrian man had apparently insisted to only live in Canada. However, his application could take as long as two years to be approved.

"We cannot let him stay at the airport for two years. He also refused to go to other countries that were willing to accept him as a refugee," said Azis at a press conference, reported The Star.

Hassan, who has been documenting his terminal life on social media, has attracted much attention from human rights activists and the media

The Guardian reported Hassan's life of being forced to shower in an airport bathroom and live off packaged meals of rice and chicken that AirAsia provided for him.

Occasionally, he would spend his "dwindling savings" on a McDonald's meal or coffee brought to him by airport cleaners.

"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," said Hassan, according to the report.

Syrian refugee Hassan al-Kontar.

Image via Asia Wire

Hassan's alleged helpless situation has been disputed by a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson

In an email to Vice, the spokesperson revealed that both UNHCR and the Malaysian government have reached out to Hassan on a number of occasions.

"He (Hassan) 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."

Meanwhile, the Immigration Department may deport Hassan after police have completed investigations on the case

However, Datuk Azis said several MPs have reached out to him asking to reconsider deporting Hassan back to Syria.

The deputy home minister responded that the Ministry will let the police investigate on the matter first before making any further decisions.

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