Rahaf Alqunun: Thailand admits Saudi woman seeking asylum

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Tuesday 8th January 2019 10:03:30 in English News by Tafatiraha Guud
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    Rahaf Alqunun: Thailand admits Saudi woman seeking asylum

    Teenager seeking passage to asylum in Australia claims she was abused by her family and fears death if repatriated.

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Teenager seeking passage to asylum in Australia claims she was abused by her family and fears death if repatriated.

Thailand's immigration police chief has announced that the young Saudi woman seeking passage to asylum in Australia will be temporarily admitted to the country for evaluation by the UN refugee agency.

Surachate Hakparn told reporters on Monday that 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun would be granted entry under the protection of the office of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR).

He said the UN agency would take at least five to seven days to evaluate her case.

"I want asylum."



18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun barricades herself in Thai hotel to stop deportation to Saudi Arabia. pic.twitter.com/xYzwB3FWk0

— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 7, 2019

Surachate's announcement came after Thai authorities allowed a UN team to meet Alqunun.

Photos published by the Associated Press news agency showed Alqunun and several Thai officials leaving the Bangkok hotel on Monday evening, but her exact destination was not made public.

Alqunun later posted on social media saying that her father had arrived in Bangkok, and that she is "worried and scared". She also posted a photo of her passport, which was reportedly confiscated by Thai authorities earlier.

Alqunun had barricaded herself at the hotel earlier to prevent authorities from deporting her.

UNHCR also said on Monday that it was assessing Alqunun's "need for international refugee protection."

It said that "for reasons of confidentiality and protection" it would not release details of their meeting.

Alqunun said she fled Kuwait while her family was visiting the Gulf country and had planned to travel on from Thailand to Australia to seek asylum.

She said she was detained after leaving her plane in Bangkok and told she would be sent back to Kuwait.

Alqunun shared photos of herself on Twitter in the room where she had been held since her arrival the previous day, as officials and police gathered outside the door to take her to a plane to return her to Kuwait.

A Thai court rejected an attempt to block her deportation, but hours later the country's

immigration chief reversed plans to expel Alqunun citing concerns for her safety.

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