QUITO - A Lebanese man has been stuck in immigration purgatory at an airport in Ecuador for 42 days after losing his passport and being returned there from Spain.
Nizam Hussein Shalak, 56, who does not speak Spanish, has been residing in the international terminal of the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo airport in Guayaquil, El Universo newspaper reported.
"It is a case of inadmissibility because he has no documents," a foreign ministry source said.
"The only legal body to issue a travel document is the Lebanese consulate in Bogota," which has not responded to requests that it do so, the source said.
"We are closely following the case and are working with the interior (ministry) to get Lebanon to issue him a travel document so he can return to his country."
The situation resembles that of an Iranian refugee who lived in a Paris airport from 1988 to 2006 and was portrayed in the film "The Terminal" starring Tom Hanks.
Shalak visited Guayaquil two months ago and stopped on the way back to Lebanon in Lima, Peru, and Barcelona, Spain, where he was detained after losing his passport as well as his credit cards, El Universo newspaper reported.
He stayed in Barcelona for 10 days and Lima for another 11 before being returned to Guayaquil, where he had to make a makeshift a bed on the seats of the terminal.
"He eats with the coupons that the airline... gives him from time to time" and showers "every 3 or 4 days, when they take him to a bathroom in another part of the terminal," the newspaper said.
The foreign ministry source said that while Shalak left with a passport, he did not have one upon his return and could not pass immigration.
Therefore, "he is not legally in the country."