18-year-old Saudi girl granted refugee status

18-year-old Saudi girl granted refugee status
Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is greeted by Thai immigration authorities at a hotel inside Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand on January 7, 2019.

The UN refugee agency referred her case to Australia for her possible resettlement as a refugee.


Published: Wed 9 Jan 2019, 12:06 PM

Last updated: Wed 9 Jan 2019, 2:10 PM

The Saudi woman who fled her family and refused to leave a Bangkok airport hotel room to avoid deportation was granted refugee status on Wednesday by the UN, her friends and supporters said, clearing the way for an asylum request.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR referred her case to Australia for her possible resettlement as a refugee, Australia's Department of Home Affairs said in a statement to CNN.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18 had boarded a flight to Bangkok, intending to fly to Australia and apply for asylum. 
In a brief statement, the Australian Home Affairs Department said it would "consider this referral in the usual way".
"The government will be making no further comment on this matter," the Department said. However, officials in Australia hinted that her request will be accepted.
Al-Qunun's father and brother arrived in Thailand but she refused to see them.
"If she is found to be a refugee, then we will give very, very, very serious consideration to a humanitarian visa," Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told the ABC news agency before the UN determination was made public.
Al-Qunun and her supporters drew the world's attention to her case through a global social media campaign launched mostly on social media.  
She documented her arrival and subsequent detention in Bangkok on her smartphone, creating new Twitter and Periscope accounts where she received a deluge of supportive messages.

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