United Nations says Saudi teen is refugee, asks Australia to resettle

Rahaf al-Qunun: Dad of Saudi refugee arrives in Bangkok Thailand | Daily Star

Saudi Arabia "satisfied" as teen Rafah al-Qunun's asylum bid assessed, Thailand immigration official says

They later entered her hotel room and took her into United Nations protection. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a Tuesday statement that it would look into Alqunun's case "to assess her need for global protection". In a video clip of the meeting released by Thai immigration police, Alsheaiby is heard telling Thai officials: "From the moment she arrived, she opened a new account and her followers reached nearly 45,000 in a day. and I would have preferred it better if her phone was taken instead of her passport".

An Arabic-language hashtag meaning "end guardianship laws or else we will all migrate" has gained traction on Twitter in Saudi Arabia since Rahaf al-Qunun's ordeal has made headlines.

For runaway Saudi women, fleeing can be a matter of life and death, and they are nearly always trying to escape male relatives.

Saudi Arabia remains one of the world's most repressive countries for women.

Qanun fired off a defiant Tweet on Saturday, stating: "I can live alone, free, and independent from anyone who has not respected my dignity and has not respected me as a woman".

On Sunday Thai authorities said Qunun would be sent back to Saudi Arabia, but they abruptly changed course as her plight pinballed across social media. She had said in her online postings that she was afraid of such an encounter.

The Australian government on Tuesday teased the possibility of granting the young woman refugee status, saying it was "pleased" the United Nations was assessing her claim.

It also cited Thai authorities, saying the woman was stopped as she could not present the required documents.

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Amnesty International said in a statement that Alqunun's case had inspired millions and should remind people of the bravery and sacrifices of people who flee their native lands for safety.

In an interview with Saudi-owned TV channel Khalijia, the embassy official said that the woman's father contacted the diplomatic mission for "help" bringing her back.

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok has rejected any role in the seizure of Qanun's passport.

Alqunun arrived in Bangkok from Kuwait late Saturday but was denied entry by Thai officials.

The young woman claims she was passing through Bangkok in transit.

Yet Thailand remains relatively more welcoming than many of its neighbors by simply sporting a UNHCR country office and entertaining asylum requests. "I think my email has been hacked because I can't access the ticket".

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, refused to board a flight from Bangkok to Kuwait on Monday and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room. She claimed her life would be in danger if she was returned to her family.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, at left, walks by Thai immigration police chief Maj.

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Qunun has since tweeted that she felt safe "under UNHCR protection with the agreement of Thailand authorities." . It also entrenches the male guardianship system.

"Rahaf is not a political asylum case", he insisted.

"Often times, Thailand has not done the right things in these cases", says Phil Robertson, HRW's deputy Asia director.

The social media tsunami appears to have dramatically expedited her case. Both had attempted to apply for Turkish residency, but are now facing deportation in an ongoing appeals process.

Canberra has hinted that it will likely grant her asylum. An airline security official told the rights watchdog that he witnessed three Middle Eastern-looking men go to the room where Lasloom was being held at an airport hotel.

As the hashtag #SaveRahaf spread on Twitter, it also showed the vast power of social media.

Saudi Arabia's wider human rights record has also come under intense scrutiny since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in October.

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