Saudi teenager Rahaf al-Qunun lands in Canada after offer of asylum


Qunun had barricaded herself in a lodge room in Thailand for practically every week requesting asylum to flee her household (AFP)

Teenage Saudi asylum-seeker Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun landed in Canada on Saturday to an official welcome after fleeing her house nation final week.

Upon her arrival on the Toronto airport, Qunun, sporting a Canada hoodie and a UN Excessive Fee for Refugees cap, posed for images with Canadian Minister for Overseas Affairs Chrystia Freeland, however didn’t make a press release.

Qunun gained worldwide consideration earlier this month when she fled her house nation to Thailand, saying she feared for her life ought to she be forcibly returned to her household.

Whereas Australia had initially mentioned it was taking a look at Qunun’s case to contemplate granting her asylum, Canada stepped in and supplied speedy resettlement after Amnesty Worldwide’s Australia director Elaine Pearson mentioned the Australian authorities was “too gradual” and “did not recognise the urgency of Rahaf’s state of affairs”.

The 18-year-old, who was en path to Australia, was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officers when she arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport final Saturday, and her journey doc forcibly taken from her.

After being denied entry by Thai immigration officers, Qunun then barricaded herself inside a lodge room, posting dwell updates on social media.

“They may kill me,” she mentioned. “My life is in peril. My household threatens to kill me for essentially the most trivial issues.”

‘Overriding values of humanity have prevailed’

The UN granted Qunun refugee standing earlier this week, shortly after Thailand mentioned it could not deport her amid international strain from human rights teams and different supporters.

“Ms. al-Qunun’s plight has captured the world’s consideration over the previous few days, offering a glimpse into the precarious state of affairs of thousands and thousands of refugees worldwide.” UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi mentioned in a press release on Friday.

“Refugee safety in the present day is usually beneath menace and can’t all the time be assured, however on this occasion worldwide refugee legislation and overriding values of humanity have prevailed.”

Qunun’s case has drawn worldwide scrutiny to the strict guidelines many Saudi ladies face and comes at a time when the Gulf nation is beneath elevated scrutiny following the homicide of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Strict guardianship guidelines within the kingdom require ladies to have permission from a male family member for a variety of issues, together with the flexibility to work, journey or marry.

Final 12 months, Freeland, who welcomed Qunun in Toronto, had known as for the Saudi authorities to right away launch detained Saudi ladies’s rights activists.

The tweet set off a diplomatic firestorm between Ottawa and Riyadh, which accused the Canadian authorities of interfering within the Gulf kingdom’s inner affairs.

Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador within the nation and known as on Canada to apologise publicly. Regardless of the frosty relationship, nevertheless, Trudeau has to date resisted calls to droop a multi-billion-dollar deal to ship Canadian-made weapons to Saudi Arabia.


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