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Saudi teen refugee who fled alleged abuse and started viral Twitter campaign arrives in Canada

Saudi teen refugee who fled alleged abuse and started viral Twitter campaign arrives in Canada

Alqunun is presently currently being interviewed by the United Nations refugee comission.

Twitter/Rahaf Alqunun

  • Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, a Saudi teen who commenced a viral social media marketing campaign to obtain asylum, has arrived in Canada following Key Minister Justin Trudeau claimed the region would take her.
  • Previously, the U.N. Large Commissioner for Refugees gave her formal refugee position.
  • In advance of touring to Canada, Alqunun was in Thailand, where she flew and locked herself in a hotel area right up until she secured short-term protection from the region.

TORONTO (AP) — An eighteen-12 months-outdated Saudi runaway who said she was abused and feared loss of life if deported back house arrived in Canada Saturday arm-in-arm with the country’s international minister.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun smiled broadly as she exited an arrival door at Toronto’s airport sporting a Canada zipper hoodie, capping a remarkable week that noticed her flee her relatives although going to Kuwait and right before traveling to Bangkok, wherever she barricaded herself in an airport resort to avoid deportation. The circumstance grabbed world-wide interest following she mounted a social media campaign for asylum.

“This a really courageous new Canadian,” mentioned Overseas Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Read through much more: The Saudi teen who fled her loved ones and led a viral Twitter campaign was just granted asylum in Canada

Key Minister Justin Trudeau declared Friday that Canada would take Alqunun as a refugee in a situation that has highlighted the lead to of women’s legal rights in Saudi Arabia, in which quite a few gals fleeing abuse by their people have been caught attempting to look for asylum abroad in recent a long time and returned household. Human rights activists say numerous related situations go unreported.

“She had a really long and tiring journey so she would prefer not to get thoughts currently,” said Freeland, incorporating that she would consider thoughts afterwards.

Alqunun previously tweeted two photographs from her plane seat — 1 with what seems to be a glass of wine and her passport and a different keeping her passport while on the plane with the hashtag “I did it” and the emojis displaying airplane, hearts and wine glass.

Canada’s decision to grant her asylum could further upset the country’s relations with Saudi Arabia.

In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its very own ambassador just after Canada’s International Ministry tweeted support for women’s correct activists who had been arrested. The Saudis also bought Canadian investments and purchased their citizens researching in Canada to go away.

No state, which include the U.S., spoke out publicly in assistance of Canada in that spat with the Saudis.

On Friday, Trudeau avoided answering a issue about what the case would necessarily mean for relations with the kingdom, but he stated Canada is pleased to give her asylum for the reason that Canada is a nation that understands how crucial it is to stand up for human legal rights and to stand up for woman’s rights all around.

Canadian officers had been hesitant to remark further more right up until she landed securely.

The business of the U.N. Significant Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada’s determination.

“The brief actions in excess of the earlier week of the governing administration of Thailand in giving temporary refuge and facilitating refugee standing resolve by UNHCR, and of the authorities of Canada in giving emergency resettlement to Ms. Alqunun and arranging her travel had been vital to the prosperous resolution of this circumstance,” the company claimed in a statement.

Various other nations around the world, including Australia, had been in talks with the U.N.’s refugee agency to accept Alqunun, Surachate claimed.

“She selected Canada. It can be her personalized determination,” he stated.

It was not instantly clear what prompted Alqunun to choose Canada over Australia. Australian media documented that UNHCR experienced withdrawn its referral for Alqunon to be resettled in Australia simply because Canberra was taking far too extended to come to a decision on her asylum.

“When referring circumstances with particular vulnerabilities who require speedy resettlement, we connect good great importance to the velocity at which nations around the world contemplate and process cases,” a UNHCR spokesperson in Bangkok explained to The Affiliated Press in an e-mail reply on issue of anonymity for the reason that the particular person was not authorized to examine the situation publicly.

Canada’s ambassador had noticed her off at the airport, Surachate explained, adding that she seemed pleased and balanced.

She thanked anyone for helping her, he reported, and included that the 1st factor she would do upon arrival in Canada would be to start off discovering the language. She already speaks extra than passable English, in addition to Arabic.

Alqunun was stopped Jan. five at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport by immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.

She barricaded herself in an airport lodge place and took her plight on to social media. It got plenty of community and diplomatic help that Thai officers admitted her quickly underneath the defense of U.N. officials, who granted her refugee status Wednesday.

Alqunun’s father arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but his daughter refused to meet with him. Surachate said the father — whose title has not been introduced — denied physically abusing Alqunun or seeking to drive her into an arranged marriage, which ended up among the the good reasons she gave for her flight. He said Alqunun’s father desired his daughter again but revered her final decision.

“He has ten youngsters. He claimed the daughter may truly feel neglected often,” Surachate explained.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Legal rights Enjoy, cited Alqunun’s “bravery and perseverance.”

“This is so significantly a victory for everyone who cares about respecting and advertising women’s rights, valuing the independence of youth to forge their individual way, and demanding governments operate in the gentle and not darkness,” he claimed in a statement.


Involved Push author Tassanee Vejpongsa in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Much more:

Rahaf Alqunun
United Nations

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