Published: Sat, January 12, 2019

Thai, Saudi officials meet over case of young Saudi woman

Thai, Saudi officials meet over case of young Saudi woman

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun's case echoes that of another Saudi woman who was in transit to Australia in April 2017.

"She is a young Saudi woman whose face has been plastered around the world", Pearson said.

Al-Qunun's plight unfolded on social media, drawing support from around the world, which convinced Thai authorities to back down from sending her back to Saudi Arabia.

Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun in Bangkok.

UNHCR Global Spokesperson Babar Baloch confirmed that the teen had "left the airport to a safe place in the city", noting that she would be further interviewed by agency officials after having some rest.In an earlier statement on Monday, Surachate said Thai immigration stopped Qunun because Saudi officials informed them that she had fled her family."Thailand is a land of smiles". "This should be the standard for any individual who claims that his or her life is in danger".

But Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun's father and brother would have to wait and see whether the United Nations refugee agency would allow them to see her, immigration chief Surachate Hakpan said.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs said they would "carefully consider" any application by the 18-year-old once a decision is made, which is expected to happen in the next five days.

"We have no idea what he is going to do", he said.

But she was intercepted by Thai authorities, who initially wanted to send her back to her says her family consider her a "slave", and would kill her if she were sent back, as punishment for renouncing Islam.

In a since-deleted tweet, Ms Alqunun's friends spoke about her concern for her 11-year-old sister's welfare.

The case has drawn fresh global attention to Saudi's guardianship system, whereby women must have permission from a male relative to work, marry, and travel.

"Let's show moral leadership that she can be given a safe haven here in our wonderful country", she told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Qunun has refused to meet her father and brother who flew to Bangkok this week, Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said.

Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, was en route from Kuwait via the Philippines but was taken back to Saudi Arabia from Manila airport by her family.

Thailand is not a signatory of the United Nations convention on refugees and those seeking protection are often left in years of limbo as they wait for third countries to grant them asylum.

Ms Alqunun will be subject to Australian security and character checks as the government examines her suitability for refugee settlement.

Ms Alqunun had planned to enter Australia on a tourist visa and seek asylum before she was detained by Thai authorities on Sunday.

"My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things", Al-Qunun told Reuters, describing "physical, emotional and verbal abuse and being imprisoned inside the house for months".

"Thailand is concerned about their diplomatic relations, their political relations, their economic relations, and their military relations with certain countries,"says Emily Arnold-Fernández, executive director of Asylum Access".

Some Saudi female runaways fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years. "I'm shouting out for help of humanity", she tweeted.

Qunun's case comes at a time when Riyadh is facing unusually intense scrutiny from its Western allies over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October and over humanitarian consequences of its war in Yemen.

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