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Life in a glass box How a family of Kurdish refugees has been living at a Moscow airport for the past 41 days

Source: Meduza
Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza

Since September 10, a family of Kurdish refugees has been living at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. Khasan Aman Ando, his wife, Gulistan, and their four children (ranging from 3 to 13 years old) have been trying to find asylum in Russia, after fleeing their hometown in Iraq, which is under attack by ISIL. The family was detained at the Russian border, accused of traveling with forged passports. Syrian authorities later confirmed the authenticity of their documents, but Russian migration officials still denied the family refugee status on October 14. "I called the Federal Migration Service, and they told me right away that the request for asylum will be denied because of the criminal charges for crossing the border illegally," Svetlana Gannushkina, a human rights worker, told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Gulistan is currently undergoing treatment at the Khimki City Hospital's neurology department, where her sister is helping to care for her. The rest of the family is back at Sheremetyevo Airport. Meduza presents a short photo series about their life in a Russian airport.

Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza

The family has taken up residence in the former smoking area in Sheremetyevo's Terminal E. Traveling from Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, they brought seven bags, but no warm clothes.

Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza

The children sleep together on a large air mattress atop a pile of blankets. Relatives and human rights workers bring the family groceries.

Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza

"Despite all that's happened to us here, I don't want to return home," Khasan Aman Ando says.

Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza

The former smoking area has come to look more like a nursery today.

Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza

The family washes its clothes in a toilet and dries them on heaters along the wall.

Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza
Photo: Katya Letova / Meduza

Khasan and Gulistan's oldest son, 13-year-old Renas, speaks fluent English and serves as the family's translator.