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Canada will grant asylum to Saudi woman fleeing alleged abuse: Trudeau

  • 12 January 2019
  • Author: QT01
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Canada will grant asylum to Saudi woman fleeing alleged abuse: Trudeau
Canada will grant asylum to a Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse from her family and has spent nearly a week barricaded in a Bangkok hotel room, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The prime minister was asked about whether Canada would accept Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, as a refugee during a media availability in Regina on Friday.
"The [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] has made a request of Canada that we accept Ms. al-Qunun as a refugee and we have accepted the UN's request that we grant her asylum," he told reporters.
The young woman's story made international headlines after she was stopped at a Bangkok airport on Saturday by Thai immigration police, denied entry and had her passport seized.
She then barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign on Twitter, which drew enough support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of UN officials.
The UNHCR eventually granted her refugee status on Wednesday and several countries, including Canada and Australia, had been in talks with the United Nations refugee agency to accept her.
Thailand's immigration chief told reporters earlier on Friday that she's already on her way to Toronto.
"Canada has granted her asylum," Surachate Hakpark told Reuters. "She'll leave tonight at 11:15 p.m.," which is 11:15 a.m. ET.
The UN agency thanked both governments for their quick response and specifically thanked Canada for accepting al-Qunun and arranging her travel. 
"Refugee protection today is often under threat and cannot always be assured, but in this instance international refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.
The statement said the "fast-track" mechanism that allowed for al-Qunun to come to Canada so quickly "is available only to a fraction of the world's 25.4 million refugees, typically those at greatest risk, such as women at risk."
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