Canada takes in Saudi teen asylum seeker

12 January, 2019, 06:57 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Associated Press

Trudeau said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had asked Canada to take in Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who grabbed worldwide attention this week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies any abuse. "She'll leave tonight at 11.15 p.m".

UNHCR's office in Canada did not immediately respond to MEE's request for comment on Friday.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency welcomes the expected arrival in Canada of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun and the decision of the Canadian Government to provide global protection and a long-term solution for her there as a resettled refugee.

She has refused to meet her father and brother, who arrived in Bangkok this week to try to take her back to Saudi Arabia while denying accusations that her family was abusing her physically and emotionally, Thai authorities said.

She then barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign on Twitter, which drew enough support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of United Nations officials. Her efforts picked up enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of the United Nations.

Shortly after hearing about Ms Alqunun's plight, Australia said that it would "carefully consider" granting her a humanitarian protection visa, if she applied for one.

Her case has drawn attention to Saudi Arabia's restrictive social rules.

A number of countries, including Australia, have considered her case for asylum.

Marise Payne, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday she raised her concerns over his continued detention with the Thai authorities during her trip to the country. She had said in her online postings that she was afraid of such an encounter.

Canada's ambassador saw Ms Alqunun off at the airport, General Surachate said, adding she looked happy and healthy.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told BuzzFeed News that Qunun suspended her account because of some "very nasty, very real death threats".


She has accused her family of abuse, and said she feared they would kill her.

There was "no possibility" that al-Qunun would return to Australia with her yesterday, said Payne, who declined to speculate on a timeframe for giving the Saudi teen asylum if she were granted refugee status.

She is now en route to Canada, according to the Thai immigration chief.

Surachate described the father as being a governor in Saudi Arabia.

Australia had said on Wednesday that it was considering taking in Qunun.

Despite having harnessed the power of Twitter to stave off deportation on Friday, she abruptly suspended her account, with friends saying she had received death threats.

The 18-year-old was detained in Thailand following her arrival in the country.

Alqunun's appeal for refugee status also underscored the severe restrictions that women in Saudi Arabia face.

"She has become of a symbol of oppressed young women in Saudi Arabia".

Australia was among the countries also considering resettling the woman, as that's where she was headed when she arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait on Saturday.

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