Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Canada grants asylum to Saudi teen fleeing alleged abuse

Canada grants asylum to Saudi teen fleeing alleged abuse

Alqunun, from Hail in northwestern Saudi Arabia, said she feared she may have been killed if forced to return to her family.

Thai police say Rahaf al-Qunun's father is still in Thailand and opposes her application to resettle.

The UNHCR welcomed Canada's decision and also acknowledged Thailand had given Qunun temporary refuge.

Robertson thanked Trudeau, the UNHCR, and Canada for helping with the case.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

"Today Rahaf has been granted refugee status", he told reporters.

Activists have called on Thai authorities to "show humanity" to Alaraibi in the same way that they had to Qunun.

Until that happens she is under the care of UNHCR in Bangkok.

"We have nothing new to add on this right now", said a spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, but a source told The Globe and Mail that she was headed to Canada.

She said had been confined inside a hotel room at the airport, under the guard of men she said were from the Saudi embassy and Kuwait airlines.

However, Ms Qunun sent a series of tweets pleading for help from her airport hotel room, and her case was picked up by Human Rights Watch and journalists. "It was her wish to go to Canada", Surachate said.

She has attracted interest worldwide, particularly in Australia. She was seen briefly, being escorted to the departure gate by United Nations officials.

Qunun has accused her family of abuse, a charge they deny.

"I also appreciate the opportunity ... to raise Australia's concern about the detention of and possible return of Hakeem al-Araibi to Bahrain", Ms. Payne told reporters after the meeting.

It wasn't immediately clear what prompted Alqunon to choose Canada over Australia.

The UN was concerned about her safety, following online threats to her life, and Canada may have been able to process her resettlement more quickly. He described the man as being a governor in Saudi Arabia. One requires that women get permission from a male "guardian" to travel.

Social media user Jawhrah said the message resonated with her. Her friends said she had suffered abuse at family members' hands.

Has anything like this happened before?

Surachate said that police could not confiscate her phone because she was not being detained and said that the Saudi diplomat's remark was "just an opinion" and "nothing to be taken seriously".

Alqunun deactivated her Twitter account on Friday.

Rahaf is an inspiration.

Some freedoms have been granted under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ended a ban on women driving, eased restrictions on gender mixing, and championed firsts such as allowing women to serve in the armed forces.

What we are going through is terrible.

Though her asylum case has moved at lightning speed, the mystery over which country will accept Ms al-Qunun remains. "Rahaf, you have shown us, that we deserve to be free". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. Every girl that is tweeting about this, it's either that she has already escaped or she's using a fake account like me. Australia wants me to go there??? "We took action to remove the tweet and clarify the question, which was aimed at Asian Network listeners who had faced their own issues regarding family and religion".

Like this: