Trudeau confirms Saudi asylum seeker coming to Canada

Saudi Runaway Woman

Saudi Runaway Woman

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

A U.S. news report says the young Saudi woman, who fled from her family during a holiday last weekend, has been granted asylum in Australia.

Ms Payne later told reporters that Australia was assessing Ms al-Qunun's request for resettlement, but there was no specific timeframe.

"I think the most important thing is a young woman in these very very hard circumstances is supported appropriately through the United Nations processes and that countries like Australia who are in a position potentially to provide her with support are able to work from that point once those are finalised and determine what the next steps are", Ms Payne said.

The 18-year-old barricaded herself in a room at an airport hotel in Bangkok on Sunday, saying she had renounced Islam and her life was in danger from her family in Kuwait.

Canada will grant asylum to a Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse from her family and has spent almost a week barricaded in a Bangkok hotel room, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But according to UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards, the organisation can not confirm at this stage whether it has in deed withdrawn its referral to Australia.

Human rights campaigners say many similar cases have gone unreported.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with senior Thai officials in Bangkok on Thursday.

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Ms Qunun's desperate tweets ricocheted across social media with the #SaveRahaf hashtag drawing an outpouring of support but also the bile of some hardliners in her native country.

If she goes there, her case could add another interesting element to what has been an escalating back-and-forth between Canada and the Saudi government, a spat that has severely strained relations between the two countries.

Still Tamara Wood, a lecturer in forced migration at the University of New South Wales, said the speed with which her case is being treated appears quick, but "not unprecedented".

Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but Ms Qunun "refused to see" them, according to Thai Immigration Chief Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, who has been caught up in the global firestorm since Ms Qunun's arrival.

The Department confirmed earlier on Wednesday it will consider any asylum application by Alqunun, 18, if she is deemed a refugee by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). "We are sorry the original wording about 'respecting her decision" was open to misinterpretation".

Ms Alqunun later tweeted the video of that meeting and wrote that her "Twitter account has changed the game against what he wished for me".

Canada was one of several countries that have been in talks with the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees about accepting Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who was stopped at a Bangkok airport last Saturday by Thai immigration police after being denied her entry, and having her passport seized.

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok said it "did not demand her deportation" and that the case is "a family affair".

"Canada is very concerned by and watching closely the situation of Ms Rahaf al-Qunun", spokesman Stefano Maron told MEE. Bahrain is seeking his extradition.

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