Saudi teenager referred to Australia for refugee resettlement: UNHCR

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun at Thailand airport Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Bangkok, Thailand Jan 09, 2019, 11.51 AM (IST)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) has said it has referred Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun who fled home citing abuse at home to be considered for "refugee resettlement" in Australia.

"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement," the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement.

Australia's health minister Greg Hunt had told a television channel that the 18-year-old Qunun would be considered for a humanitarian visa if she is found to be a refugee.

Hunt said he had spoken to immigration minister David Coleman about Qunun's case late on Tuesday.

However, Australia's home affairs minister Peter Dutton said there would be "no special treatment" afforded to Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun but added that Australia would work with the United Nations.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has been at Bangkok's international airport since Saturday after she arrived from Kuwait, she was supposed to board a flight to Australia but was stopped by authorities at Bangkok.

Thai authorities had earlier said Qunun did not have documents related to visa on arrival, however, the Saudi teenager contended that she did not want to return home because she feared for her life.

"They will kill me," Qunun said, adding,"My life is in danger. My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things."

The teenager's case has attracted global attention after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly killed by Saudi men in the Saudi consulate at Istanbul in October last year raising worldwide condemnation over human rights.

Meanwhile, Thailand's immigration chief said the father of an 18-year-old arrived in Bangkok and wanted to meet his daughter even as the UN refugee agency was conducting its investigation on the women's refugee status.

The case has also brought into attention Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel.
 

Story highlights

Australia's home affairs minister Peter Dutton said there would be "no special treatment" afforded to Rahaf Mohammed al- Qunun