Saudi teenager gets asylum in Australia, Thai officials say


Saudi teenager gets asylum in Australia, Thai officials sayTwitter / @ Reaproy via CNN

Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun

Related Content

(CNN) – Canada will grant asylum to an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled to Thailand to escape her allegedly violent family, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Rahaf Al-Qunun will travel to Toronto, with a stopover in Seoul, said Thai Immigration Police Chief Surachate Hakparn. She boarded a Korean Airlines plane in Bangkok.

Trudeau told reporters in Saskatchewan that his country had accepted the request by United Nations officials.

The news followed confusion earlier in the day about the place of relocation of the teenager.

Hakparn first told CNN that Australia and Canada had offered asylum to Qunun. But he later asked that the statement be retracted.

Adding to the sense of uncertainty surrounding this case, the Twitter account used by Qunun throughout his call to the asylum has been disabled.

Sophie McNeill, ABC reporter, tweeted On Friday, Qunun was "safe and secure," but "has received many death threats, and she will be back on Twitter, but for the moment, she seems to have a short break."

Qunun had traveled to Thailand from Kuwait to escape her family, claiming that she feared killing her because she had renounced Islam. She was planning to fly to Australia, but was barricaded Sunday in a hotel room at Bangkok 's main airport after police officers said. Thai immigration tried to send her back to the Middle East.

Qunun and his followers have drawn the world's attention to his case through a social media campaign launched primarily on Twitter. She documented her arrival and subsequent detention in Bangkok on her smartphone, creating new Twitter and Periscope accounts where she received a barrage of messages of support.

Its history has also placed Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws, which restrict many aspects of women's lives, under the control of the international community.

In response to the media campaign, the Thai authorities allowed Qunun to contact UNHCR and did not deport him to Kuwait. His online campaign was so successful that Saudi Arabian businessman Abdalelah Mohammed A. al-Shuaibi told Thai officials through a translator: "We would like to see you here. they confiscated his phone instead of his passport ".

Qunun later tweeted the video of this meeting and writes that his Twitter account "changed the game against what he wanted for me".

Resettlement is not an option for many refugees

This is not automatically a right for refugees to be resettled and less than 1% of registered refugees worldwide have been resettled in 2017, according to UNHCR.

Refugees can wait all their lives until a third country accepts them. the the process is often evaluated on the urgency of the individual needs of a refugee, giving priority to the most vulnerable. Refugees can wait from nine months to several years to get an answer – longer if they appeal a refusal.

On Wednesday, the Australian Department of Home Affairs told CNN that it would consider the return of Qunun "in the usual way, as it does for all UNHCR referrals". Interior Minister Peter Dutton also said that there would be no "special treatment" in the case, according to Nine News, affiliated with CNN.

"Nobody wants to see a young girl in distress and she has visibly found a safe haven in Thailand," Dutton told reporters in Brisbane.

Global Affairs Canada spokesman Stefano Maron told CNN on Wednesday that Canada was very concerned about Qunun's case and was watching it closely.

"We are in close contact with partners about his situation," said Maron. "Canada will always stand up for human rights, including women's rights."