Wed, Dec 15, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Real-life `Terminal' sequel showing at Kenya's top airport

GOING NOWHERE If Hollywood is looking for ideas for a new movie about being stuck in a passenger terminal, they need not look any further

THE GUARDIAN , JOHANNESBURG

A Kenyan-born British national has lived at Nairobi Airport for six months after being refused entry to Britain and Kenya, marooning him in a bureaucratic twilight zone.

Sanjai Shah, 42, has a small mattress, sheets, a blanket and daily rations of food from immigration officials to sustain him as he wanders the lounges of Jomo Kenyatta airport, AFP reported on Monday.

The case echoes the recent Steven Spielberg film The Terminal, with Tom Hanks as a man stuck for months at New York's JFK Airport because of wrangling over his nationality.

The film was based on the true story of an Iranian refugee, Merhan Karimi Nasseri, who has been stranded for 16 years at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Shah renounced Kenyan citizenship early this year when he was granted a British overseas passport by the high commission in Nairobi. But when he traveled to Britain to meet his sister he was refused entry and deported back to the Kenyan capital.

"He has since been living in the airport for six months," an unnamed government official told AFP.

"We cannot allow him in because he surrendered his Kenyan passport when they recognized him as a Briton," he said.

The official added: "This is not our problem, it is London's."

A British high commission spokesman, Mark Norton, said Shah had been refused entry in May because immigration officials realized he would not return to Kenya once he entered the UK.

"An overseas passport does not give its holder automatic entry and stay in Britain. We have repeatedly told Shah to come to our offices for us to advise him, but he has refused and opted to stay at the airport," Norton said.

Nairobi Airport's unusual lodger could not be reached for comment.

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