United Nations asks Australia to consider Saudi teen for 'refugee resettlement'

  • United Nations asks Australia to consider Saudi teen for 'refugee resettlement'

United Nations asks Australia to consider Saudi teen for 'refugee resettlement'

Australia will "consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals".

A young Saudi woman is asking for Canada's help after tweets about her efforts to flee abuse and seek asylum overseas put her in the global spotlight.

With the United Nations examining her case, Rahaf is safe for now.

"The embassy does not have the authority to stop her at the airport or anywhere else", the Saudi embassy said in a statement.

Thai authorities arrested and charged AlAraibi, a Bahraini footballer who has a refugee status in Australia, late past year.

"It would have been better if they confiscated her cell phone instead of her passport because Twitter changed everything".

Australia gave its strongest hint yet on Wednesday that an 18-year-old Saudi woman in Bangkok would be granted humanitarian asylum, despite efforts by Riyadh and her family to force her return home.

The teen wrote of being in "real danger" if she is forced to return to her family, posting a copy of her passport to prove her identity.

Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but al-Qunun "refused to see" them, according to Thai immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn, who has been caught up in the global firestorm since al-Qunun's arrival.

So far, family members don't appear to have commented publicly on the allegations of abuse. "We are both concerned for Miss Rahaf's safety and well-being", said Surachate.

Ms Al-Qunun's Twitter account has attracted tens of thousands of followers in less than 48 hours and her story grabbed the attention of governments, activists and well-known figures all over the world.

According to Saudi law, male relatives have legal guardianship over women, meaning that the fate of runaway women lies in their male relatives's hands.

In 2017, Dina Lasloom triggered an online firestorm when she was stopped en route to Australia where she planned to seek asylum.

Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn conceded that Twitter can "attract the interest of the global community" but denied authorities were swayed by Rahaf's social media barrage. He described the man as being a governor in Saudi Arabia.

Thailand is not a signatory of the United Nations convention on refugees and those seeking protection are often left in years of limbo as they wait for third countries to grant them asylum.

Qunun has said she believes she will be imprisoned or killed if sent back, and that her family is so strict it once locked her in a room for six months for cutting her hair.

In a statement from the government, Ms Alqunun will be subject to Australian checks before she is granted a humanitarian visa, including character and security assessments.

Lawmakers and activists in Australia and Britain urged their governments to grant asylum to al-Qunun, who was finally allowed by Thailand to enter the country yesterday.

"The father is now here in Thailand and that's a source of concern", Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch's deputy director for Asia, told Reuters. It said the embassy is not communicating with the teenager, but is communicating with Thai authorities.

She claims she will be killed if she returns to Saudi Arabia. Several female Saudis fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years and returned home. Qunun then used social media to seek help from different countries.

In October, the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey further heightened tensions and put worldwide scrutiny on the country's human rights record.