The 2004 Steven Spielberg film “The Terminal” is about an Immigrant from Eastern Europe portrayed by Tom Hanks who becomes stuck at JFK International Airport for weeks caught in an endless pile of Red Tape because a revolution in his home country rendered his passport invalid. And more recently, Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who fled the USA spent more than a month living in the Moscow Airport before being granted Asylum. A similar situation is unfolding for a Kurdish family who has fled war torn Syria in hopes of being granted Asylum in Russia. The family’s Visas were deemed fake by Russian Immigration officials at the Moscow airport, and they have been forced to remain in limbo at the Airport for the past 50 days while their lawyer tries to get them admitted.
The family has been living in a barren corner of the airport terminal overlooking the tarmac, with air mattresses spread on the floor for napping, and suitcases pushed against the walls. UNICEF has been bringing them food and after 44 days sleeping on the cold airport floors, the United Nations recently convinced Russian authorities to let the family spend nights in a hotel room located inside the airport terminal. The family claims they chose Russia because they have some family members living there already, and if they are forced back to Syria, they fear the Assad regime will kill them.
It is well known that Russia has close ties with the Syrian regime, and it appears as though Russia does not want to encourage masses of other Syrians to leave the country. According to CNN, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the country has taken in 1 million refugees from Ukraine and accepted 8,000 people from Syria in September. The family’s lawyer said thatRussian authorities are now investigating the family passports and nearing a decision.
This may be one instance in which Social Media attention has helped shine a light on this family and hopefully forces Russia to act in a responsible manner concerning their fate.