Saudi Woman Running Away from Family is Now Under UNHCR Protection

Rahaf had said her family would kill her if she was sent back

The father of an 18-year-old Saudi woman asylum seeker who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her, has arrived in Bangkok and wants to meet his daughter, Thailand's immigration chief said on Tuesday.

She arrived in Bangkok on Saturday from Kuwait, saying she feared her family would kill her if she was forced to go home.

"The government has made representations to the Thai government and the Bangkok office of the UNHCR about its serious concerns on this matter and the need for Ms.al-Qunun's claim to be assessed expeditiously", the statement from Home Affairs said.

The UNHCR in Bangkok has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond.

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

Thai immigration officials booked her a flight back to Kuwait where her family were waiting for her, but Rahaf refused to board the flight and locked herself inside a hotel room in the airport. "I'm shouting out for help of humanity", she tweeted. However, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director with Human Rights Watch, revealed that Canada "really worked very hard" to "persuade" Thailand not to expel her.

"She is now under the sovereignty of Thailand; no-one and no embassy can force her to go anywhere", he said.

Her father, a Saudi government official, and brother landed in the capital last night and immediately asked to see Ms Alqunun.

A group called the Secret Sisterhood has set up a GoFundMe page to raise cash for Qunun once she is resettled in another country.

The embassy, along with Thai officials, earlier said that al-Qunun was stopped by Thai authorities in Bangkok because she did not have a return ticket, a hotel reservation or itinerary to show she was a tourist, which appeared to have raised a flag about the reasons for her trip.

Saudi Woman Running Away from Family is Now Under UNHCR Protection
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Giuseppe de Vincentiis, UNHCR's Thailand representative, said in a statement: "It could take several days to process the case and determine next steps".

The UN is examining the asylum appeal of a young Saudi woman who fled her family and is afraid of getting killed if sent home.

"The father and brother want to go and talk to Rahaf but the United Nations will need to approve such talk", General Surachate told reporters.

Saudi Arabia's strict social rules requirem women to have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel.

Lawmakers and activists in Australia and Britain have urged their governments to grant asylum to Qunun. "Thailand is a land of smiles".

Alqunun's Twitter account has attracted tens of thousands of followers in less than 48 hours and her story grabbed the attention of governments, activists and well-known figures all over the world.

The 18-year-old Saudi national said she had "left her religion" and begged for shelter from either Canada, the US, Australia or the United Kingdom in a series of frantic twitter posts.

He said the Thai government "needs to explain why diplomats from Saudi Arabia are allowed to walk in closed areas of the Bangkok airport, seizing one of their citizen's passports".

A number of female activists who fought for the right to drive have been arrested and disappeared and the country has been condemned across the world over the gruesome murder late past year of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Turkey.

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