Australia Considering Resettlement for Fleeing Saudi Woman

BBC asks if Muslim teenager who fled Saudi ‘should be killed for leaving Islam’

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Police Chief Surachate Hakparn said the 18-year-old woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, would leave late Friday evening.

"The Canadian government seemed to appreciate the urgency of this case, while Australian officials did not - for whatever reason, Australia was moving too slowly in processing UNHCR's request", Pearson said.

A Saudi woman who fled her family, alleging abuse, moved a step closer Wednesday to her goal of gaining asylum in Australia after a United Nations agency granted her refugee status.

Alqunun was stopped January 5 at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport by immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.

She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign that drew global attention to her case.

Thai officials allowed her temporary protection of United Nations officials on Wednesday after initially threatening to deport her.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi welcomed Canada's decision, given the hardening of attitudes in some countries towards the plight of refugees.

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Her case has drawn attention to Saudi Arabia's strict societal rules, including one that obliges women to have the permission of a male guardian to travel.

Justin Trudeau has confirmed that Canada will grant asylum to a Saudi woman who received refugee status this week after fleeing alleged abuse from her family.

She said she raised Australia's concerns about the case with Thailand's deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, earlier signalled a willingness to look at the case.

Mr Trudeau said Canada would always help to defend human rights and the rights of women.

After posting her last message, she deactivated her Twitter account.

Around midday on Friday, Qunun posted on her Twitter account that she had "bad and good news!"

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Her father has reportedly denied physically abusing her or trying to force her into an arranged marriage.

There was "no possibility" that al-Qunun would return to Australia with her yesterday, said Payne, who declined to speculate on a timeframe for giving the Saudi teen asylum if she were granted refugee status. She barricaded herself inside a hotel room for hours until the Thai government reversed its decision to send her home.

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

On Wednesday, Australia said it would consider taking Qunun in.

In some countries, her adult age would have prevented the authorities from telling her family anything about her.

Payne's visit will also put a spotlight on another refugee case, involving a Bahrain footballer Hakeem AlAraibi, who has refugee status in Australia but was arrested at Bangkok airport past year after arriving for his honeymoon.

Qunun's case has drawn worldwide attention to the strict rules many Saudi women face and comes at a time when the Gulf country is under increased scrutiny following the gruesome murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The teenager feared the presence of her father and brother in Thailand posed a new risk to her plan to escape her family to a different country.

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