Thursday 27 June 2019

Saudi teen on her way to Canada for asylum

 

18-year old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun boarded a flight from Bangkok to Toronto yesterday. Photo: Sakchai Lalit/AP
18-year old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun boarded a flight from Bangkok to Toronto yesterday. Photo: Sakchai Lalit/AP

Harriet Alexander

A Saudi woman who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her was yesterday en route to Canada, where she would be granted asylum, the Thai immigration chief said.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (18) boarded a flight from Bangkok to Toronto via Seoul yesterday, immigration chief Surachate Hakpark said.

"Canada has granted her asylum," Mr Surachate told Reuters. "She'll leave tonight at 11.15pm."

Canada's immigration and refugee board did not return calls. "We have nothing new to add on this right now," said a spokesman for Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister.

Earlier, Thai police said several countries including Canada and Australia were in talks with the UN refugee agency on accepting Ms al-Qunun, and that the UN was accelerating the case.

She was stopped at a Bangkok airport last Saturday by Thai immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.

She accused her family of abuse, and refused to meet her father and brother who arrived in Bangkok to try to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

While barricading herself in an airport hotel room, she launched a social media campaign via her Twitter account that drew global attention to her case. It garnered enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of UN officials. The UN granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

Irish Independent

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