TRENTON, 12 Jan 2019 [Fik/News Sources]: An asylum seeker who fled Saudi Arabia because of alleged abuse by her family left for Canada from Bangkok on Friday, according to Thailand’s top immigration official.
Surachate Hakparn said Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun left for Seoul, South Korea where she will board a connecting flight to Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was questioned by reporters Friday that “the [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] has made a request of Canada that we accept Ms. al-Qunun as a refugee and we have accepted the UN’s request that we grant her asylum.”
Jean-Nicolas Beuze, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Canada, said he could not discuss the case “for protection reasons.”
Al-Qunun was stopped in Bangkok airport Saturday while trying to flee her family in Saudi Arabia. She said her life was in danger because she renounced Islam and fled to Kuwait where she boarded a plane to Thailand.
But Al-Qunun barricaded herself in a Thai hotel room at the airport and then embarked on a social media quest, telling of her situation and her wish to be given asylum in another country.
The campaign generated enough publicity that Thai officials allowed her to remain in the country under the protection of the UN. She was granted refugee status by the UN on Wednesday.
Other countries were in discussions to take al-Qunun, including Australia.
The acceptance of the teen could further damage Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Canada.
In August, the Saudis sold off investments in Canada and told students studying there to leave after Canadian officials called for the immediate release of women’s right activists jailed in the Kingdom.