Monday, 24 June, 2019

Thai police: Canada, Australia willing to accept fleeing Saudi woman

Labor urges government to offer Saudi woman asylum in Australia Saudi Teen Who Locked Herself in Thai Airport Hotel Room Recognized as Refugee
Steven Clarke | 14 January, 2019, 21:45

Hakparn said Canada had also offered Qunun asylum and they were waiting for her decision.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, confirmed Qunun was granted asylum following a request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family this week saying she feared for her life arrived in Toronto's worldwide airport on Saturday after being granted asylum in Canada, where Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed her as a fearless new Canadian.

A spokesman for Canada's foreign minister said he could not confirm she was coming to Canada.

"It was a pleasure for me this morning to welcome her to her new home", Freeland said.

The statement said the "fast-track" mechanism that allowed for al-Qunun to come to Canada so quickly "is available only to a fraction of the world's 25.4 million refugees, typically those at greatest risk, such as women at risk".

The Canada-Saudi Arabia relations have soured after a diplomatic row which was sparked by the Canadian government's call for the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and his sister Samar via Twitter on August 5, 2018.

Qunun's story has also put Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system, which restricts many aspects of women's lives, back under global scrutiny. She later told reporters that Australia was assessing Al-Qunun's request for resettlement.

"I do note that there are legal proceedings underway in relation to Mr.al-Araibi, and Australia will continue to be in very close contact with Thai authorities in relation to this".

The Australian Department of Home Affairs declined to comment to CNN, which has also reached out to the Canadian government for confirmation.

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

But she soon started posting messages on Twitter from the transit area of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport saying she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would be in danger if forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

A loose group of activists and friends bolstered her social media campaign using the hashtag #SaveRahaf and was able to stave off deportation.

"I spend a lot of time critiquing the refugee process", she said, "but this is one case where it seems to be working".

The diplomat dispute began when Ms. Freeland tweeted concerns about the news that several social activists had been arrested in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi, a women's rights activist.

"Refugee protection today is often under threat and can not always be assured, but in this instance global refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed", UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks to the press at the Australian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019.

"Once again we are seeing the abusive influence of Saudi authorities overseas as they seek to forcibly return Saudi women fleeing mistreatment and violence by their families", said Page.

"You are the spark that would motivate me to be a better person", she said.

She said she was aiming for Australia where officials had said they would give serious consideration to her claim for asylum, which was endorsed as legitimate by the UNHCR on Thursday. "And she is now going to go to her new home".

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