Refugees duped and dumped at KL airport

MALAYSIA - People fleeing from countries torn by strife are being duped by international syndicates which have been using the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as their base.

The Palestinian Ambassador to Malaysia, Mr Abdelaziz Abughoush, said these syndicates abused the kindness shown by the Malaysian government in allowing Muslims to enter the country without visas.

"There are Mafia-type groups taking advantage of desperate people, not just Palestinians, by promising them travel documents and visas to enable them to enter any country of their choice," he told The Star.

As an example, Mr Abdelaziz cited the case of stranded Syrian teacher Khaled Ali and his family of five who were squatting in the KLIA transit area after being conned into believing that they could get passports to enter Sweden.

Mr Khaled said a 50-year-old man called Abdul Rakhman Salekh had asked for US$9,500 (S$12,000) to get passports and flight tickets for the family to travel from Moscow to Kuala Lumpur, en route to Stockholm. Rakhman also took away the family's passports.

Mr Khaled said the man had assured his family that they would be able to get new Swedish passports upon arrival at KLIA, but when they arrived at KLIA, Rakhman was nowhere to be found.

Malaysia Airports Holdings has set up a special task force to investigate claims of passports being exchanged in the transit area.