Canberra to decide Saudi's fate after United Nations refugee ruling

Canberra to decide Saudi's fate after United Nations refugee ruling

A Saudi asylum seeker who fled alleged abuse by her family is leaving Bangkok on Friday and will fly to Canada, Thailand's immigration police chief said.

Ms al-Qunun previously said on her Twitter account that she wished to seek refuge in Australia.

"Her father is relieved that she is safe", Gen Surachate said, adding that the "UNHCR will find a third country that will accept her in two days".

After publicising her case via social media, saying she feared for her safety if made to return home to her family, she was placed in the care of UNHCR workers as her bid for refugee status was considered.

Women in Saudi Arabia are subject to male guardianship laws, which mean they need a male relative's permission to work, travel, marry, open a bank account, or even leave prison.

Qunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday and was initially denied entry but after a tense 48-hour stand-off at Bangkok airport, some of it barricaded in a transit lounge hotel room, she was allowed to enter the country and has been processed as a refugee by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

In a statement to 10 daily, a spokesperson for the department said it would consider her referral for resettlement in Australia.

Hakparn said Canada had also offered Qunun asylum and they were waiting for her decision.

Qunun is now on her way to Canada, officials in Thailand said earlier in the day, less than a week after she barricaded herself inside a hotel in Bangkok and refused to be returned to her family.

But just days after fleeing a powerful and allegedly abusive family in Saudi Arabia, al-Qunun has already been judged a legitimate refugee by the United Nations and been in contact with Australian officials in Bangkok about resettlement.

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In a video clip of the meeting released by Thai immigration police, Alsheaiby is heard telling Thai officials: "From the moment she arrived, she opened a new account and her followers reached nearly 45,000 in a day. and I would have preferred it better if her phone was taken instead of her passport".

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun began tweeting from Bangkok's airport, and a campaign sprang up on Twitter prompting the Thai government to reverse a decision to force the young woman to go back to her family.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

According to Human Rights Watch, Canada helped persuade the Thai government to let Qunun seek asylum.

Reuters cited the Thai immigration chief as the source who said Alqunun was going to Canada - which has been in a simmering months-long diplonatic spat with Saudi Arabia.

On Friday afternoon she posted a final cryptic tweet on her profile saying "I have some good news and some bad news" - shortly after her account was deactivated in response to death threats she had faced, her friends said.

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

Surachate discussed Alqunun's situation on Tuesday with Saudi Charge d'Affaires in Thailand Abdalelah Mohammed A. Alsheaiby.

She also opened up about living with her family in Saudi Arabia, describing it as hard as she had no freedom.

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