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Syria native Hassan al-Kontar has been stranded in Kuala Lumpur’s airport transit area for over one month. He is simultaneously unable to enter Malaysia and unable to go to another country.

He was deported from the United Arab Emirates to Malaysia when he lost his work visa in the UAE. He says that he lost his work visa in the UAE because of the conflict in Syria. He was then deported to Malaysia because it is one of a scarce amount of countries in the world that offers a visa on arrival program to Syrian people. The Syrian passport is one of the weakest in the world, which leaves Hassan with very few options of where he can travel to.

When he arrived in Malaysia he was given a 3 month tourist visa so he could arrange a more permanent country to travel to. Despite that, he was unable to arrange anything within the 3 month window he had. He even saved enough money to travel to Ecuador, a country which allows Syrians, but Turkish Airways would not allow him onto the plane. Perhaps due to the fact that a layover in Turkey would have been required.

When the 3 months ran out he was banned from Malaysia, so he is prohibited from entering the country again.

He also cannot return to Syria. He is unable because of how hazardous the country has become from years of war. Even if he wanted to return, most commercial airlines are no longer flying there because of the danger. It is currently impossible to find a flight that goes from Kuala-Lumpur to Syria.

Hassan is now receiving support from the UN and airport officials but his future is extremely uncertain. He does not know where he can go and is running out of options.

Difficult words

Stranded: Unable to leave.

Simultaneously: At the same time as something else.

Deported: To be sent to your home country from a foreign country.

Scarce: Not many.

Arrange: To plan something

Window: A certain amount of time you are able to do something

Required: Something that is necessary.

Prohibited: Something that is not allowed

Hazardous: Very dangerous

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Stranded A. Concurrently
2. Simultaneously B.  Extradite
3. Deported C. Stuck
4. Scarce D. Plan
5. Arrange E. Forbidden
6. Window F. Unsafe
7. Required G. Few
8. Prohibited H. Amount of time
9. Hazardous I.  Essential

True or False?

1. A Syrian man has been trapped in a China airport for more than a month.  T / F

2. The man cannot go to his home country because of the war. T / F

3. There are an abundance of countries which grant visas to Syrians. T / F

4. The man had been living in the United Arab Emirates. T / F

5.  There are stronger passports than the Syrian passport. T / F

6. Malaysia granted the man a 6 month visa. T / F

7.  Turkish Airways allowed that man on the plane. T / F

8. Ecuador allows Syrians entry to their country. T / F

9.  The man was banned from Malaysia. T / F

10.  There are flights every week between Kuala-Lumpur and Syria. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. He / to / unable / enter / to / country / go / simultaneously / unable / Malaysia / and / another / to / is

2. he / work / in / He / that / says / his / visa / UAE / the / lost

3. world / weakest / the / the / Syrian / one / in / passport / The / is / of

4. out / 3 / he / ran / months / from / the / was / Malaysia / banned / When

5. anything / He / to / month / unable / arrange / was / the / window / 3 / within

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

 Danger  Permanent Deported
 Commercial Options  Prohibited
 Stranded  Arrange  Uncertain

Syria native Hassan al-Kontar has been ____________ in Kuala Lumpur’s airport transit area for over one month. He is simultaneously unable to enter Malaysia and unable to go to another country.

He was ____________ from the United Arab Emirates to Malaysia when he lost his work visa in the UAE. He says that he lost his work visa in the UAE because of the conflict in Syria. He was then deported to Malaysia because it is one of a scarce amount of countries in the world that offers a visa on arrival program to Syrian people. The Syrian passport is one of the weakest in the world, which leaves Hassan with very few _________ of where he can travel to.

When he arrived in Malaysia he was given a 3 month tourist visa so he could arrange a more _____________ country to travel to. Despite that, he was unable to ___________ anything within the 3 month window he had. He even saved enough money to travel to Ecuador, a country which allows Syrians, but Turkish Airways would not allow him onto the plane. Perhaps due to the fact that a layover in Turkey would have been required.

When the 3 months ran out he was banned from Malaysia, so he is ___________ from entering the country again.

He also cannot return to Syria. He is unable because of how hazardous the country has become from years of war. Even if he wanted to return, most _____________ airlines are no longer flying there because of the ____________. It is currently impossible to find a flight that goes from Kuala-Lumpur to Syria.

Hassan is now receiving support from the UN and airport officials but his future is extremely ____________ . He does not know where he can go and is running out of options.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. Have you ever had trouble getting a visa?
4. How do you think the man should be helped?
5. What would you do if you were this man?
6. Do you think countries should accept Syrian refugees?
7. Have you ever heard of the film ‘The Terminal’?
8. What is the longest you have ever been in an airport?
9. Are there any countries that you would like to live in?
10. Have you ever been to a dangerous country?
11. Is your passport a “strong” passport?
12. Do tourists need a visa to visit your country?
13. What do you think life is like being stuck in an airport for so long?
14. Should Malaysia let the man into the country?
15. Would you try to escape the airport?
16. Do you think airports are comfortable?
17. Have you ever been trapped inside anywhere?
18. How long do you think you could survive in an airport?
19. Do you like airports?
20. Is there anything you would like to say to the man?