Canada grants asylum to Saudi runaway teen fleeing allegedly abusive family

Canada grants asylum to Saudi runaway teen fleeing allegedly abusive family

Canada grants asylum to Saudi runaway teen fleeing allegedly abusive family

The Saudi teen has been accepted as a refugee by Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.

After grabbing worldwide attention with her social media posts, authorities eventually allowed her to enter the country.

Thailand, which initially had threatened to deport her back to Saudi Arabia, said she was seen off by Canada's ambassador.

Her plight is not that of refugees who languish for years in sprawling city camps like Dadaab, Kenya or Zaatari, Jordan.

The human rights group Amnesty International said yesterday it welcomed the decision by UNHCR to grant refugee status to the teenage Saudi runaway.

"That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, to stand up for women's rights around the world", Trudeau said, during a media availability in Regina.

The UN's refugee agency has ruled Saudi woman Rahaf Al-Qunun is a refugee.


The UNHCR granted her refugee status, and Australia's Department of Home Affairs told NPR that Australia would "consider this referral [for refugee resettlement] in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals".

"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".

What happened to Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun?

Alqunun had been on vacation with her family in Kuwait earlier this month when she ran away and took a flight to Bangkok, NPR reports.

If she goes there, her case could add another interesting element to what has been an escalating back-and-forth between Canada and the Saudi government, a spat that has severely strained relations between the two countries.

A Saudi envoy in Bangkok denied any official Saudi involvement in Ms Qunun's detention. Human rights activists say many such cases have gone unreported.

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

The developments come after the teenager, who will be flying from Bangkok to Seoul before taking a connecting flight to Canada, was given refugee status by the United Nations high commissioner for refugees on Wednesday.

Surachate said the father _ whose name has not been released _ denied physically abusing Alqunun or trying to force her into an arranged marriage, which were among the reasons she gave for her flight. She later told reporters that Australia was assessing Alqunun's request for resettlement. The Southeast Asian country is not a signatory to a convention on refugees and asylum seekers must be referred to a third country.

It is not clear why the Australian option fell through, and the United Nations switched to Canada.

She also opened up about living with her family in Saudi Arabia, describing it as hard as she had no freedom. She told the BBC that she had renounced Islam and was fearful of her father's retaliation.

The teenager claims she is fleeing psychological and physical violence at the hands of male members of her family.

"We wish Ms Al-Qunun all the best for her future in Canada", he said.

Has anything like this happened before?

"My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait", Qunun said by text and voice message from the hotel late on Sunday.

Online protest is a tactic long championed by women in Saudi Arabia.

Rahaf is an inspiration.

What we are going through is terrible.

"We should still offer Rahaf a visa so she has the choice to come here if she wants". "Rahaf, you have shown us, that we deserve to be free". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. Some people tweeted me or DMed me to tell me to use my real account, for me to be courageous.

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