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Syrian Refugee in Uruguay Douses Self With Gas in Protest

  • Associated Press

A group of Syrian refugees gather with their belongings in Independence Square in Montevideo, Uruguay, Sept. 7, 2015.

A group of Syrian refugees gather with their belongings in Independence Square in Montevideo, Uruguay, Sept. 7, 2015.

A Syrian refugee unhappy with his resettlement in Uruguay doused himself with gasoline on Tuesday as a form of protest while meeting with government officials.

Interior Ministry official Fernando Gil told The Associated Press that Merhi Alshebli was detained after the incident Tuesday afternoon.

The dousing happened inside Alshebli's home in Juan Lacaze, a town about 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Montevideo.

A government statement released late Tuesday said officials from the Secretary of Human Rights, which oversees the refugees' resettlement, were meeting with Alshebli about his request for a visa to go to another country.

"The team once again explained to him the state of Uruguay can't grant entry visas for other countries," said the statement.

Filed complaint

The incident happened after hours of exchanges with Alshebli, and afterward the group filed a complaint with police, according to the statement.

It wasn't immediately known if Alshebli tried to set himself afire or how the incident was resolved.

Alshebli's son, Ibrahim, said his father was being held in the neighboring city of Rosario. The case will be examined by a judge, said Inspector Enuversindo Correa, sub-director of the Colonia police force, which oversees the city of Juan Lacaze.

Last year, the small South American nation of 3.3 million took in five Syrian families as refugees. However, the Syrians have complained of high costs and contend the government has not helped them enough.

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