Saudi asylum seeker flying to Canada, say Thai police

Saudi asylum seeker flying to Canada, say Thai police

It is not known why Ms. a-Qunun made a decision to seek asylum in Canada after she initially expressed a desire to live in Australia.

But according to UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards, the organisation can not confirm at this stage whether it has in deed withdrawn its referral to Australia.

On Wednesday, the UNHCR granted her refugee status, ahead of a visit by Foreign Minister Marise Payne to Thailand a day later.

The Australian newspaper reports Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is headed to Canada, while the Daily Mail Australia reports she has been granted resettlement in Australia.

Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but Ms Qunun "refused to see" them, according to Thai Immigration Chief Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, who has been caught up in the worldwide firestorm since Ms Qunun's arrival.

A Twitter user known as Nourah, whom Qunun has referred to as a friend, tweeted that Qunun "received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account".

He said the family's patriarch had met with the UNHCR yesterday morning and will return to "her country" later today.

"If she is found to be a refugee, then we will give very, very, very serious consideration to a humanitarian visa", Health Minister Greg Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. before the UNHCR's referral.

Around midday on Friday, Qunun posted on her Twitter account that she had "bad and good news!"

Qunun later tweeted the video of that meeting and wrote that her "Twitter account has changed the game against what he wished for me".

The 18-year-old's swift use of Twitter saw her amass more than 100,000 followers within a week, highlighting her plight and allowing her to avoid the fate of countless other refugees who are quietly sent back home or languish in detention centres.

More news: The Oscars will have no host this year
More news: Erie to see 2 to 4 inches of snow Thursday
More news: Huawei sales director nicked in Poland on suspicion of 'spying'

In a statement ahead of her trip, Payne did not mention Qunun's case.

Immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said al-Qunun's father and brother, who have arrived in Thailand, could not object to the United Nations process as she has already been granted refugee status.

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

But after being detained by Thai authorities, she refused to board a flight back to Kuwait, barricading herself in a hotel room. It garnered enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to temporarily admit her under the protection of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which later granted her refugee status.

Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed the news on Wednesday afternoon.

Though her asylum case has moved at lightning speed the mystery over which country will accept Rahaf remains.

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. It said her case had inspired millions and should remind people of the bravery and sacrifices of people who flee their native lands for safety.

The 18-year-old even railed against online trolls who were spreading rumours on social media that she was lying about her situation. She has accused her family of abuse, and said she feared they would kill her.

"There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment", Ms Payne said.

"We want to show the world, women can be free and safe and should be able to express ourselves freely and safely", Love said.

Related Articles