Roman Trofimov, a stateless Russian Estonian, flew to the Philippines in front of the world’s lockdown and did not manage to cross the border before the emergency was declared. And then everything went like in the Hollywood movie "Terminal": a man was trapped at the airport for more than 100 days.
However, Trofimov was not the only one who lived at the airport for three months. In connection with the closed borders due to the coronavirus, the path of the movie hero Tom Hanks was repeated by other passengers.
"Cockroaches crawled over my body while I was sleeping"
Let's go back to Trofimov. During his life at the airport, he bought himself food in fast food at the airport, brushed his teeth in a public toilet, tried to fall asleep on the floor in the waiting room. Trofimov said that the lights in the terminal were not turned off and the same music was repeated every 15 minutes, so it was difficult to sleep. He did not even receive a mask.
"Cockroaches were crawling all over the terminal and crawled right on me when I was sleeping. Hundreds of Filipino labor migrants flew in daily, passed us, they didn’t even give us a mask to protect themselves from the virus, and we never washed," Trofimov describes his stay at the airport.
Now he is doing well: a Facebook blog about life at the airport was noticed by users of social media and helped to fly to Estonia with a transfer in Amsterdam. True, Trofimov was late for the plane in the Netherlands, but most of the road was behind.
How did he start living in the terminal? On March 20, the border guard did not let him out of the airport in Manila due to an emergency: Trofimov was about to move on, and the message between the cities was closed. He could not go back due to the cancellation of air travel.
The man’s passport was taken away and said that he was in the custody of AirAsia airline and the company was responsible for taking him out of the country.
At first, he thought that he would wait two weeks at the airport, but then the quarantine was extended. The air carrier was not in a hurry to solve his problem but simply ignored all calls.
The airport administration demanded that he buy a ticket home as soon as possible.
Three months at Bangkok Airport
Tourists from Nigeria spent three months at the Bangkok airport due to the cancellation of transfer flights during the coronavirus pandemic.
Travelers arrived on March 21 and stuck at the airport, Bangkok Post reported. They were waiting for flights to Myanmar and Laos, but these countries closed their borders. They did not have visas to Thailand, so they were not released from the terminal.
Two tourists arrived on an Emirates Airlines flight and were supposed to get on a connecting flight with Lao Airlines. The third one flew on March 24 by Etihad Airways and was supposed to continue on its flight with Bangkok Airways.
Tourists lived in a waiting room, and the airport administration provided food and water. However, for three months the tourists were left without a shower and washed in the toilet of the airport. All three were tested for coronavirus, and the test results were negative.
Six months at Boryspil airport
Similar stories happened at the Boryspil airport in Kyiv. Palestinian Mohammed Hijazi, who was a refugee, spent six months in a transit zone there.
On January 16, 2009, Mohammed, who lived and studied in for 10 years, was detained by police on the street, KP.ua reported. He was declared persona non grata and that very day was taken to Boryspil, where he was put on a plane and sent to the Gaza Strip.
He was returned to Kyiv from Cairo, through which he flew in transit. Over the threshold of the airport, border guards released him. While Mohammed was waiting at the airport, Samir's daughter was born to him and his lover from Kryvy Rih.
"I slept on a bench. Friends passed me food. I didn’t even have a refrigerator, I had to eat bread and cheese. The hardest days for me were the first days of my stay at the airport. I had no clothes to change, no brush to brush my teeth," the man said in one of the interviews.
He was forbidden to enter Ukraine until 2014, but with the assistance of the UN, this period was accelerated.
18 years due to stolen documents
The most famous resident of the airport is Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the Terminal was filmed on his prototype. The man was kicked out of his native country after participating in political protests, after which he legally obtained refugee status in Belgium. He could choose any country to stay and decided to go to the UK with a transfer to Paris.
Someone stole Nasseri's bag with the documents in the Paris airport, he managed to get on a plane, but when arrived in London, the passport office sent him back. He could not enter France without documents and remain in the transit zone. Belgium could give him documents, but Nassiri wanted to live in Britain.
All these years he lived in a transit zone, read books, even became a star, and gave out interviews and thus earned his living. In 2006, Nasseri was hospitalized, after leaving the hospital, the Iranian was still in a hotel near the airport for some time, and then he moved to a Paris shelter for the homeless, where he still lives.
450 days at the airport for a British passport
Kenyan Sanjay Shah managed to get a UK passport due to his assertiveness. At first, Sanjay Shah was denied entry to the UK in 2004, where he arrived with a British passport, which did not give him immigration rights.
Before traveling to Europe, he refused his Kenyan passport, so in fact, the Shah was left without citizenship, which would allow him to return to his homeland.
Sanjay had to live at Nairobi International Airport for 437 days, moving between departure halls and desks. He washed his face in the airport toilets and ate food that was given to him by people working in the airport restaurants.
Thanks to the close attention of the media and public support, Shah received British citizenship, where he now lives with his family.
What laws govern transit zones?
The so-called transit zones at airports are still part of the country in which they are located. These small territories fall under the "sovereignty" of the country and no restrictions apply, El Pais reports.
They overlap for waiting passengers who have not actually crossed the border. There are also airports without transit zones in general, which operate only on domestic flights.
These zones have different purposes: they are also places for people who are deported from the country or are prohibited from entering the country. Asylum seekers also wait in these areas until the authorities decide what to do.
In any case, the movement of such passengers is limited.
It is important to know that different countries have their own laws regarding transit zones. The problem is that practice has always created many legal problems. Even the European Union does not have a common transit zone policy.
For example, in Spain, when a person seeks asylum in one of the transit zones, the government should study this matter, and if this is proved, the person will be allowed to enter Spain. If the shelter is refused, the person will be denied entry and put on a plane to another country.