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The Unity Convoy Ambulance for Syria volunteers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport before their departure on April 20, 2017. The group faced their first challenge when they were detained for seven hours at the Heathrow Airport in London on Saturday. Pix by Mohd Fadli Hamzah

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian volunteers for humanitarian mission under the Unity Convoy Ambulance for Syria faced their first challenge when they were detained for seven hours at the Heathrow Airport in London on Saturday.

Team leader, Mohamed Muaz Mohamed Ruslan said 20 volunteers were held and interrogated by the British immigration and police regarding the mission.

“We have been working with the authority here (London) for the past three weeks and I personally have been in touch with the police here in the United Kingdom (UK) by providing them the details of our mission. So they knew the purpose of our mission and they have all the details. They detained us for questioning just to make sure none of us have any bad intentions,” he told Bernama through WhatsApp application today.

Mohamed Muaz, 27, said the British authorities finally understood the real purpose of the group and allowed the team to continue its mission to send ambulances to Syria.

“The issue of Syria is very sensitive and caused high alert here in the UK, especially ahead of the election of the President of France tomorrow. Thank God, though questioned relentlessly for hours, all volunteers were calm and rational in answering their questions.

“When we explained our mission clearly and showed them all the relevant documents, they released us. God willing we will not give up because this is just our first challenge and obstacle in carrying out this mission,” he explained.

All volunteers left for the UK from KL International Airport on Thursday night, and they would join more than 150 international volunteers from several other countries including Australia, Germany and Indonesia in the UK before moving to Syria on Monday and expected to arrive on May 4.

Aged 19 to 35 years, the volunteers consist of humanitarian activists from various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the Malaysian Life Line for Syria (MLLFS), Volunteer Muslim Malaysia (MVM), Global Peace Mission Malaysia and Humanity Heroes.

Mohamed Muaz said the mission would leave from London to Idlib, Syria, via Europe with 100 ambulances, including seven ambulances from Malaysia that were carrying medical supplies. -- Bernama

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