Saudi teen who fled her family arrives in Canada

Australia Considering Resettlement for Fleeing Saudi Woman

Australia Considering Resettlement for Fleeing Saudi Woman

The 18-year-old's fight against deportation from Thailand as she tried to claim asylum captivated a global audience through her Twitter account, which now has almost 150,000 followers.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrived in Toronto, the country's largest city, tweeting "OMG ..." Smiling broadly, she posed for photographers with Freeland at her side, but made no statement.

"I understand that there have been death threats against her but I don't know the details", said Human Rights Watch's Mr Phil Robertson, adding that even threats from online trolls need to be taken seriously.

Canada has previously angered Saudi Arabia after calling for the release of detained women's rights activists in the country - prompting Riyadh to expel Canada's ambassador and freeze all new trade.

She is the sister of imprisoned dissident blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife is a Canadian citizen and lives in Quebec.

But armed with a smartphone and a hastily opened Twitter account, she forced a U-turn from Thai immigration police who handed her into the care of the UN's refugee agency as the #SaveRahaf hashtag case bounced across the world.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced the teenager as "a very fearless new Canadian" but said that Ms al-Qunun was exhausted from her ordeal and long journey and would not be making any public statement on Saturday.

"Refugee protection today is often under threat and can not always be assured, but in this instance worldwide refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed", he said.

Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is seen before departing from Thailand at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand January 11, 2019.

Qunun reportedly fled her family while visiting Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, where she was stopped at a Bangkok airport last Saturday by Thai immigration police, who denied her entry and seized her passport.




Ms al-Qunun said she would be departing for her new home "soon" and has been assigned an apartment in an unknown town or city.

Her case highlighted the cause of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years and forcibly returned home.

"She is safe now and has good physical and mental health. And she is now going to go to her new home". After a brief appearance, she was taken back into the airport terminal. "Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support".

Rahaf's swift use of Twitter saw her amass more than 100,000 followers within a week, highlighting her plight at a time when Saudi Arabia's human rights record is under heavy scrutiny following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year ago. She has claimed that she faced abuse at home, and feared punishment because she had denounced Islam.

18-year old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun boarded a flight from Bangkok to Toronto yesterday. She said her father physically abused her and tried to force her into an arranged marriage.

Canada's move is sure to further strain its relations with the Arab kingdom.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with senior Thai officials in Bangkok on Thursday.

Australian media reported that UNHCR had withdrawn its referral for Alqunon to be resettled in Australia because Canberra was taking too long to decide on her asylum.

Surachate had told reporters earlier Friday that "two or three" countries were ready to offer her asylum.

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