UNHCR 'assessing' young Saudi woman's need for protection

Will Be Killed If Sent Back: Saudi Woman Stopped From Entering Thailand

Australia said Tuesday it will "carefully consider" the asylum claim of an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse from her family and is now in the care of the United Nations in Bangkok, after she fended off deportation in a gripping, live-tweeted ordeal.

Thailand's immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told AFP: "Rahaf Mohammed M Alqunun ran away from her family to avoid marriage and she is concerned she may be in trouble returning to Saudi Arabia".

A Twitter statement from the Saudi embassy in Bangkok said Qunun was stopped by Thai authorities for "violating the (Thai) law".

Ms Qunun said by text and voice message from the hotel on Sunday: "My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait". While on a recent trip with her family, Alqunun slipped away and flew to Thailand, in an attempt to reach Australia, where she hoped to ultimately be granted asylum.

Thailand's immigration police chief met Tuesday with officials of the Saudi Embassy in Bangkok, and said the officials told him they are satisfied with how the case of the young Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her abusive family has been handled.

Alqunun posted another video of a self-made barricade behind her hotel room door demanding asylum from the UN. "They will take me to Saudi Arabia and my father will kill me, because he is so angry", she added.

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Said culture and guardianship policy requires women to have permission from a male relative to work, travel, marry, and even get some medial treatment.

Qunun was stopped by immigration because Saudi Arabian officials contacted them to say she had fled her family, he added.

Alqunun told both the newspaper and the world via social media that her deportation was essentially a death sentence.

Another tweet read: 'I'm afraid my family will kill me'.

Because she did not have a visa to enter Thailand, he said police had denied her entry and were in the process of repatriating her through the same airline she had taken, Kuwait Airlines.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said Thailand should not send miss Qunun back to her family because she says she faces danger. The Guardian confirmed on Monday Qunun had a valid three-month tourist visa for Australia, issued to her Saudi passport. But he denied the Saudi teenager was being detained by Thai authorities.

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A statement issued Monday by the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for refugees said it sought to assess 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun's "need for global refugee protection and find an immediate solution for her situation".

"She is now under the sovereignty of Thailand; no-one and no embassy can force her to go anywhere". She said she had planned to spend a few days in Thailand so she would not spark suspicion when she left Kuwait. But an hour later, officials told her they knew she had fled her family and that they would send her back to them in Kuwait.

"I want U.N.", Alqunun wrote on Twitter Monday.

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun tweeted that her father had arrived, "which anxious and scared me a lot", but said she felt safe "under UNHCR protection with the agreement of Thailand authorities".

A copy of Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun's passport, which she says was removed from her when she landed in Thailand.

In 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom triggered a firestorm online when she was stopped en route to Australia, where she planned to seek asylum.

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