A Kurdish family fleeing Syrian civil war is stuck in bureaucratic purgatory: Moscow’s airport.
Hassan Abdo Ahmed Mohammed, his four children and wife want to settle in Russia, but the government declares that their visas are fake. They can’t return home either because is too dangerous.
The only option for this family was to set up a camp inside Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and wait until the lawyers succeed to untangle the red tape. For the last 50 days, their home is a barren corner of the airport terminal overlooking the tarmac. They use airport restrooms, the suitcases have been pushed against the wall, air mattress are spread on the floor for napping and they can’t cook so UNICEF brings them food.
They stretched a cord to make their space and a hand writing sign says: “Please don’t touch our thing because we are living here.”
Recently, the situation improved a little bit. A non-governmental organization and the United Nations convinced Russian authorities to let the family spend nights in a hotel which is located inside the airport terminal. “After 44 days of sleeping on the ground of the airport, in the cold, they decided to put us in a hotel. The condition of the room is not great, and they put us in the smoking area,” said Mohammed.
The airport is definitely not a good place for couple’s children: a 3-years-old daughter and three boys, ages 8 to 13. “We have not seen the sun for 49 days,” said Mohammed. Because of the bad conditions Mohammed’s wife got sick and she had to spend two weeks in a hospital where she wasn’t allowed to see her kids.
Family has relatives in Moscow
Mohammed and his family wanted to go to Moscow because his wife’s cousin and sister live there. They applied for visas to Russia and flew to Istanbul and then to Moscow. When we arrived the airport in Moscow, we were told to wait for a security check,” Mohammed said. “After few days we were told that our visas are fake.” The authorities wanted to deport the family back to Syria, but Mohamed said “if I go back, the regime will kill me and my family.” Besides this, Russians refused hid demand to return in Ibril or Istanbul.
Mohammed think that this is happening because the Russian government has a very strong relation with the Syrian regime and they do not want to encourage Syrians to leave the country.”
Russia has not relaxed its immigration laws for the recent wave of immigrants. Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign spokeswoman, said that every people who wants to enter the county has to have proper documentation and she will not change the laws for this family.