No Solution Quite Yet for Terrified Saudi Refugee in Thailand

11 January, 2019, 22:51 | Author: Carlos George
  • BBC asks if Muslim teenager who fled Saudi ‘should be killed for leaving Islam’

Ms al-Qunun has also claimed her family would kill her if she were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where she has renounced Islam and "rebelled" against her father.

After learning of the UNHCR's decision to grant her refugee status on Wednesday al-Qunun's twitter account tweeted: "Don't let anyone break your wings, you're free. fight and get your RIGHTS!"

"I think the most important thing is a young woman in these very very hard circumstances is supported appropriately through the United Nations processes and that countries like Australia who are in a position potentially to provide her with support are able to work from that point once those are finalised and determine what the next steps are", Ms Payne said.

After barricading herself in an airport hotel room, the 18-year-old launched a social media campaign via her Twitter account that drew global attention to her case.

The ordeal of Saudi Arabian refugee Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun continues for now, with Australia's foreign minister telling reporters in Bangkok Thursday no asylum deal had been reached yet.

She quashed speculation that Alqunun might accompany her back to Australia, "because there are steps which are required in the process which Australia, and any other country considering such a matter, would have to go through". Human rights activists say many such cases have gone unreported.

During her trip, Payne met with her Thai counterpart, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

Ms Qunun's desperate tweets ricocheted across social media with the #SaveRahaf hashtag drawing an outpouring of support but also the bile of some hardliners in her native country.

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

Thai authorities eventually allowed her to enter the country on Monday evening and the United Nations refugee agency referred Rahaf to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement.

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Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun has been granted asylum in Australia, according to a Thai official.

Global News reached out to the UNHCR Canada for a comment, but a spokesperson said due to "protection reasons" the agency can not talk about her case.

Thailand's immigration chief said Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun would be leaving the country on Friday after she was granted asylum in Canada.

Payne is also expected to discuss the case of a Bahraini footballer with Australian asylum status who has been jailed in Thailand and faces extradition back to Bahrain.

"She chose Canada. Canada said it will accept her", Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told reporters at Bangkok's main airport.

Wong said every case had to be considered on its merits.

"Another young Saudi girl - another genuine refugee - was dragged back from an airport to Saudi Arabia to a presumably disgusting fate while trying to escape the country in 2017".

UNHCR says the teen is en route to Canada, and it is grateful for the government's decision to provide worldwide protection and a "long-term solution for her there as a resettled refugee".

She documented her arrival and subsequent detention in Bangkok on her smartphone, creating new Twitter and Periscope accounts where she received a deluge of supportive messages.

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