Around 200 people fleeing Syria face an uncertain future in South Korea, according to the head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), with 65 of them not even being able to leave the airport they landed in.
Although it was not clear when the Syrians arrived -- or even what airport many remain at -- NIS chief Lee Byung-ho underlined that he had been told that most were fairly wealthy and could clearly afford to fly.
Most people fleeing Syria do so with what little possessions they can carry via land crossings into neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, which presently houses more than 2.2 million Syrian refugees and has spent more than $8 billion over the last three years caring for them.
News agency Yonhap made public the revelation by Lee in a parliamentary report Wednesday.
Since fleeing the ongoing war in Syria, the report said that those allowed entrance have been granted permits to stay in South Korea temporarily -- but without being able to access basic rights.
While local authorities continue to screen those being detained, the report also stated that 48 foreign nationals had been deported since 2010 due to security risks.
Police also announced Wednesday that they had arrested an illegal migrant from Indonesia, with footage of the 32-year-old man suggesting his possible support for the Syrian al-Qaida branch al-Nusra Front.
The NIS separately said that it is aware of a dozen Daesh sympathizers in the country, although there was nothing to suggest that there was any link to any of those who remain at the airport
The Syrian civil war has claimed more than 250,000 lives, according to the UN, and made the country the world’s largest source of refugees and displaced people.
By Alex Jensen
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