Saudi teen given refugee status, Australia considering visa for her

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Before the referral, Australia signalled it would seriously consider allowing Ms Alqunun to settle in Australia after urging the UNHCR to process her case quickly.

"I want Canada to give me asylum!" she tweeted in the early morning on Tuesday.

A Saudi woman who fled her family to avoid forced marriage and refused to leave a Bangkok airport hotel room to avoid deportation was granted refugee status on Wednesday by the United Nations, her friends and supporters said, clearing the way for an asylum request.

Rahda Stirling, a Dubai-based human rights lawyer, believes Ms Alqunun's life could be in danger if she is whisked back to Saudi Arabia and does not make it to Australia. 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".

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

Alqunun refused to meet with her father, who arrived in the Thai capital on Tuesday.

She has now been referred for refugee resettlement by the the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed.

"Due to privacy concerns, we can not comment on a specific case without signed consent", said Nancy Caron, a spokeswoman for Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

After Ms Alqunun barricaded herself inside her Bangkok hotel room, her pleas for help over Twitter garnered tens of thousands of followers, and the attention of the UNHCR.

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.

So far, her family members don't appear to have commented publicly on the allegations of abuse.

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He denied abusing or threatening her, and told Surachate that Qunun had "freedom".

The representative in Australia of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, said it was encouraging that Alqunun was able to highlight her situation using social media, and she hoped more Saudi women might act similarly. She alleged she was forced her to remain in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

"I am giving my family 48 hours (to) either stop or I will publish everything that will incriminate them", she threatened on Twitter.

The human rights group Amnesty International says it welcomes the decision by a United Nations body to grant refugee status to a young Saudi woman who was stopped in Thailand as she was trying to flee her allegedly abusive family.

Immigration police chief Maj.

He said the Thai government "needs to explain why diplomats from Saudi Arabia are allowed to walk in closed areas of the Bangkok airport, seizing one of their citizen's passports".

It praised Thailand for its actions in Alqunun's case, but said the country had not treated other asylum-seekers in the same responsible manner.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the activist said there had been instances where Saudi women runaways were stopped by authorities in Hong Kong or the Philippines en route to Australia or New Zealand.

"[Ms] Rahaf is not a political asylum case", he insisted.

The latest incident comes against the backdrop of intense scrutiny on Saudi Arabia over the shocking murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi previous year, which has renewed criticism of the kingdom's rights record.