Runaway Saudi woman reaches her new home in Canada – Boston Herald


TORONTO (AP) — Tired but smiling, an 18-yr-previous Saudi lady who stated she feared dying if deported back house arrived Saturday in Canada, which provided her asylum in a case that attracted international attention after she mounted a social media campaign.

“That is Rahaf Alqunun, a very courageous new Canadian,” Overseas Minister Chrystia Freeland stated arm-in-arm with the Saudi lady in Toronto’s airport.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun smiled broadly as she exited an airport arrival door sporting a Canada zipper hoodie and a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees hat, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait and before flying to Bangkok. From there, she barricaded herself in an airport lodge to avoid deportation and tweeted about her state of affairs.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would accept Alqunun as a refugee. Her state of affairs has highlighted the cause of ladies’s rights in Saudi Arabia, the place a number of ladies fleeing abuse by their households have been caught making an attempt to hunt asylum abroad in recent times and returned residence.

Freeland stated Alqunun most popular not to take questions Saturday.

“It was a pleasure for me this morning to welcome her to her new house,” Freeland stated. “She is obviously very tired after an extended journey and she or he most popular to go and get settled. Nevertheless it was Rahaf’s selection to return out and say hiya to Canadians. She needed Canadians to see that she’s right here, that she’s nicely and that she’s very joyful to be in her new residence.”

Freeland stated Alqunun commented concerning the chilly weather and she or he responded that it gets hotter in Canada.

Alqunun flew to Toronto by way of Seoul, South Korea, based on Thai immigration Police Chief Surachate Hakparn. Alqunun tweeted two footage from her aircraft seat — one with what seems to be a glass of wine and her passport and one other holding her passport while on the aircraft with the hashtag “I did it” and the emojis displaying aircraft, hearts and wine glass.

Canada’s determination to grant her asylum might further upset the nation’s relations with Saudi Arabia.

In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its personal ambassador after Canada’s Overseas Ministry tweeted help for ladies’s proper activists who had been arrested. The Saudis also bought Canadian investments and ordered their residents learning in Canada to go away.

No country, together with the U.S., spoke out publicly in help of Canada in that spat with the Saudis. Freeland didn’t tackle what Alqunun’s case would imply to Saudi relations.

“Canada believes very strongly in standing up for human rights all through the world. We consider very strongly that ladies’s rights are human rights,” Freeland stated.

There was no quick Saudi government response, nor any mention of her arrival in state media.

Freeland stated the U.N. refugee company found she was in dangerous state of affairs in Thailand and that Canada is glad they have been capable of act shortly to supply her refuge.

Alqunun’s father arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, however his daughter refused to satisfy with him.

The workplace of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada’s choice.

“The fast actions over the previous week of the government of Thailand in offering momentary refuge and facilitating refugee status willpower by UNHCR, and of the government of Canada in offering emergency resettlement to Ms. Alqunun and arranging her travel have been key to the profitable resolution of this case,” the company stated in a press release.

A number of different nations, together with Australia, had been in talks with the U.N.’s refugee agency to simply accept Alqunun, Surachate stated.

“She selected Canada. It’s her personal determination,” he stated.

Australian media reported that UNHCR had withdrawn its referral for Alqunon to be resettled in Australia because Canberra was taking too long to determine on her asylum.

“When referring instances with particular vulnerabilities who need instant resettlement, we attach nice significance to the velocity at which nations think about and course of instances,” a UNHCR spokesperson in Bangkok advised The Associated Press in an e mail reply on situation of anonymity because the individual wasn’t approved to discuss the case publicly.

Canada’s ambassador had seen her off on the airport, where Alqunun thanked everyone for serving to her. She plans to start out learning more English, although she already speaks it greater than passably.

Alqunun was stopped Jan. 5 at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport by immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.

She barricaded herself in an airport lodge room where he social media campaign acquired enough public and diplomatic help that Thai officers admitted her briefly beneath the protection of U.N. officers, who granted her refugee standing Wednesday.

Surachate stated her father — whose identify has not been launched — denied physically abusing Alqunun or making an attempt to pressure her into an organized marriage, which have been among the many reasons she gave for her flight. He stated Alqunun’s father needed his daughter back but revered her choice.

“He has 10 youngsters. He stated the daughter may feel uncared for typically,” Surachate stated.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, cited Alqunun’s “braveness and perseverance.”

“This is so much a victory for everybody who cares about respecting and selling ladies’s rights, valuing the independence of youth to forge their own method, and demanding governments operate within the mild and never darkness,” he stated in a press release.


Associated Press writer Tassanee Vejpongsa in Bangkok contributed to this report.

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