Australia defends handling of asylum request as Saudi teen heads to Canada


"Another young Saudi girl - another genuine refugee - was dragged back from an airport to Saudi Arabia to a presumably frightful fate while trying to escape the country in 2017".

"Canada has granted her asylum", the Thai official told Reuters.

Her story has also put Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws, which restrict many aspects of women's lives, back under worldwide scrutiny.

The influence of the Internet on Alqunun's case was noted by several human rights advocates.

Al-Qunun's case has raised the state of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women have been caught trying to seek asylum after fleeing their homes. Every girl that is tweeting about this, it's either that she has already escaped or she's using a fake account like me.

She refused to fly back and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room, attracting global attention. The Twitter hashtag.SaveRahaf ensued, and a photo of her behind a door barricaded with a mattress was seen around the world. Before that, Canada and Saudi Arabia were engaged in a diplomatic spat over a federal government tweet criticizing a Saudi civil rights crackdown, prompting the kingdom to expel Canada's ambassador and ordering their citizens studying in Canada to leave. Then, Canada levelled sanctions against many Saudis believed to be involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and is said to be considering pulling out of the deal to sell light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

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.

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"Canada has been unequivocal", he said.

However, according to reports, the United Nations withdrew its referral to Australia to take her as a refugee.

A Twitter user known as Nourah, whom Qunun has referred to as a friend, tweeted that Qunun "received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account".

"I also appreciate the opportunity ... to raise Australia's concern about the detention of and possible return of Hakeem al-Araibi to Bahrain", Ms. Payne told reporters after the meeting.

The teenager claims she is fleeing psychological and physical violence at the hands of male members of her family.

Ms Qunun told the BBC: "I shared my story and my pictures on social media and my father is so angry because I did this". There was a great deal of worry about that.

Canadian authorities said they could not confirm that Qunun had been granted asylum in Canada.

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Global News reached out to the UNHCR Canada for a comment, but a spokesperson said due to "protection reasons" the agency can not talk about her case.

"They were on it from the get-go", said Robertson.

"We should know by this evening which country she'll be going to".

Canadian officials were not immediately available for comment.

Because al-Qunun turned up in Thailand - which is not a signatory to the United Nations convention on refugees - settlement there was not an option, prompting the United Nations and other countries to step in.

She thanked everyone for helping her, he said, and added that the first thing she would do upon arrival in Canada would be to start learning the language.

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