Expelled traveller living at airport
Rory Carroll in Johannesburg
Tuesday December 14, 2004
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, the news agency AFP reported yesterday.
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.
Mr Shah renounced Kenyan citizenship early this year when he was granted a British overseas passport by the high commission in Nairobi. But when he travelled to Britain to meet his sister he was refused entry and deported back to the Kenyan capital.
"When Shah travelled to Britain to meet his sister, he was refused entry and deported back to Nairobi. He has since been living in the airport for six months," a unnamed government official told AFP.
"We cannot allow him in because he surrendered his Kenyan passport when they recognised him as a Briton."
The official added: "This is not our problem, it is London's."
A British high commission spokesman, Mark Norton, said Mr Shah had been refused entry in May because immigration officials realised 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," said Mr Norton.
The airport's unusual lodger could not be reached for comment.