Rahaf al-Qunun has been granted asylum in Australia, Thai official says

Rahaf Mohammed Al Qunun is currently in the care of United Nations officials

Miss al-Qunun's case has highlighted the cause of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

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

World football governing body FIFA says Mr.al-Araibi should be freed and allowed to return to Australia where he plays for Melbourne football club Pascoe Vale in the second tier of the Australian League.

"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Ms Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement", Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed in a statement.

Australia had dropped strong hints it would resettle her after the United Nations urged the country to accept her.

Rahaf's swift use of Twitter saw her amass more than 100,000 followers within a week, highlighting her plight at a time when Saudi Arabia's human rights record is under heavy scrutiny following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year.

The office of Canada's foreign minister however, said it could not confirm that asylum had been granted.

Her tweet garnered plenty of reactions on social media, which speculated the reasons for the account deactivation.

The young woman's story made worldwide headlines after she was stopped at a Bangkok airport on Saturday by Thai immigration police, denied entry and had her passport seized.

The quick actions over the past week of the Government of Thailand in providing temporary refuge and facilitating refugee status determination by UNHCR, and of the Government of Canada in offering emergency resettlement to Ms.al-Qunun and arranging her travel were key to the successful resolution of this case.

If Canada is taking Alqunun, it could further upset Saudi-Canada relations.

Though her asylum case has moved at lightning speed the mystery over which country will accept Rahaf remains.

"We are in close contact with partners about her situation".

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

"Canada has granted her asylum", immigration chief Surachate Hakpark told Reuters news agency. Surachate said that police could not confiscate her phone because she was not being detained and said that the Saudi diplomat's remark was "just an opinion" and "nothing to be taken seriously". Bahrain is seeking his extradition.

"Another young Saudi girl - another genuine refugee - was dragged back from an airport to Saudi Arabia to a presumably terrible fate while trying to escape the country in 2017".

She documented her arrival and subsequent detention in Bangkok on her smartphone, creating new Twitter and Periscope accounts where she received a deluge of supportive messages.

She was on her way to Australia when she was stopped by Thai authorities. Describing her case as a "family affair", it said Saudi officials had neither seized her passport - as Alqunun had claimed several times - nor demanded her deportation back 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.

Related:

Comments


Other news