UNHCR finds Australia-bound Saudi teen to be refugee

09 January, 2019, 13:07 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Rahaf al-Qunun: Dad of Saudi refugee arrives in Bangkok Thailand | Daily Star

Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is seen with Thai immigration authorities at a hotel inside Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, on January 7, 2019.

However, Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakpan said the men would have to wait to learn whether the UN's refugee agency would allow them to.

"Any application by Ms.al-Qunun for a humanitarian visa will be carefully considered once the UNHCR process has concluded". It said: "I am the girl who escaped Kuwait to Thailand". Australian officials have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Ms Qunun refused to open the door when various officials came to escort her to the Kuwait Airways flight.

Ms Qunun's family could not be reached to respond to her allegations of abuse.

Australia will assess runaway Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun for settlement after the United Nations on Wednesday deemed her a refugee.

Qunun, who expressed a desire to make an asylum claim alleged several times that Saudi officials were involved in seizing her passport.

The Saudi embassy at the time issued a statement referring to the case as a "family" matter. "I would hope that, once her claim has been assessed, the Australian government will act quickly to get her out of Thailand and to safety".

She said: "They will kill me".

The Australian government said that it will evaluate al-Qunun's case according to its standard procedures, just like it does with other United Nations referrals, and declined to make further comment.

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The Australian director of Human Rights Watch Australia, Elaine Pearson, said the extraordinary circumstances around Qunun's case should be taken into account.

Surachate discussed her case on Tuesday with Saudi Charge d'Affaires in Thailand Abdalelah Mohammed A. Alsheaiby. Women in Saudi not only face punishment for "moral" c‌rim‌es, but also become v‌ict‌ims of "honor ki‌lli‌n‌gs" by their relatives.

Thai immigration officials also said there was no record of an airline ticket onward, which should have allowed her to pass through Bangkok.

Gen. Surachate Hakparn, the young woman's father and brother were due to arrive soon in Bangkok, but it would be Alqunun's decision whether to meet with them.

While Ms McNeill boarded a flight from Sydney to Bangkok, Ms Qunun was holed up in an airport transit hotel and afraid she would be forced onto the next flight back to Kuwait.

She is required to obtain their approval to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study overseas on a government scholarship, get married, leave prison, or even exit a shelter for abuse victims.

Qunun said sending her back would likely result in imprisonment and was "sure 100%" that her own family would k‌i‌ll her."My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair", she revealed.Robertson said Qunun's renouncement of Islam also puts her, "at serious risk of prosecution by the Saudi Arabian government".

"Due to privacy concerns, we can not comment on a specific case without signed consent", said Nancy Caron, a spokeswoman for Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

From her makeshift bunker, Qanun insisted her case was an urgent asylum matter and her tweets garnered the attention of prominent activists, human rights groups and Bangkok-based diplomats, with the German ambassador voicing his concern to Thai authorities.

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