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By Affiliated Push
TORONTO — Worn out but smiling, an 18-year-previous Saudi runaway who said she feared loss of life if deported back house arrived Saturday in Canada, which experienced offered her asylum in a case that captivated world-wide notice after she mounted a social media marketing campaign.
“This is Rahaf Alqunun, a incredibly courageous new Canadian,” International Minister Chrystia Freeland explained arm-in-arm with the Saudi girl 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. Large Commissioner for Refugees hat, capping a dramatic week that noticed her flee her family members although visiting Kuwait and ahead of traveling to Bangkok. From there, she barricaded herself in an airport hotel to prevent deportation and tweeted about her scenario.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would settle for Alqunun as a refugee. Her circumstance has highlighted the lead to of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, the place numerous women fleeing abuse by their households have been caught hoping to search for asylum abroad in modern many years and returned household.
Freeland stated Alqunun most well-liked not to acquire concerns Saturday.
“It was a enjoyment for me this early morning to welcome her to her new dwelling,” Freeland claimed. “She is certainly incredibly worn out soon after a lengthy journey and she most popular to go and get settled. But it was Rahaf’s choice to come out and say hi to Canadians. She desired Canadians to see that she’s listed here, that she’s well and that she’s pretty pleased to be in her new property.”
Freeland said Alqunun commented about the cold weather and she responded that it receives hotter in Canada.
Alqunun flew to Toronto by using Seoul, South Korea, according to Thai immigration Law enforcement Main Surachate Hakparn. Alqunun tweeted two photographs from her airplane seat — a single with what seems to be a glass of wine and her passport and a further keeping her passport although on the plane with the hashtag “I did it” and the emojis displaying airplane, hearts and wine glass.
Canada’s final decision to grant her asylum could further more upset the country’s relations with Saudi Arabia.
In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador soon after Canada’s Foreign Ministry tweeted guidance for women’s right activists who experienced been arrested. The Saudis also bought Canadian investments and requested their citizens learning in Canada to leave.
No place, together with the U.S., spoke out publicly in help of Canada in that spat with the Saudis. Freeland didn’t handle what Alqunun’s case would imply to Saudi relations.
“Canada thinks very strongly in standing up for human rights through the environment. We feel extremely strongly that woman’s rights are human legal rights,” Freeland mentioned.
There was no immediate Saudi governing administration response, nor any point out of her arrival in condition media.
Freeland mentioned the U.N. refugee company located she was in hazardous problem in Thailand and that Canada is glad they ended up capable to act promptly to provide her refuge.
Alqunun’s father arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but his daughter refused to meet with him.
The office of the U.N. Superior Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada’s conclusion.
“The swift steps around the past week of the federal government of Thailand in furnishing temporary refuge and facilitating refugee standing resolve by UNHCR, and of the federal government of Canada in giving emergency resettlement to Ms. Alqunun and arranging her vacation ended up vital to the prosperous resolution of this situation,” the company mentioned in a assertion.
Various other nations, like Australia, experienced been in talks with the U.N.’s refugee company to accept Alqunun, Surachate claimed.
“She selected Canada. It can be her personal final decision,” he reported.
Australian media claimed that UNHCR experienced withdrawn its referral for Alqunon to be resettled in Australia for the reason that Canberra was taking also extended to make a decision on her asylum.
“When referring instances with specific vulnerabilities who need to have speedy resettlement, we attach excellent importance to the velocity at which countries consider and course of action situations,” a UNHCR spokesperson in Bangkok explained to The Affiliated Push in an e-mail reply on problem of anonymity because the particular person wasn’t licensed to go over the scenario publicly.
Canada’s ambassador had found her off at the airport, in which Alqunun thanked anyone for supporting her. She ideas to start out learning much more English, although she currently speaks it additional than passably.
Alqunun was stopped Jan. five at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport by immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.
She barricaded herself in an airport resort place where by her social media campaign bought sufficient general public and diplomatic assistance that Thai officers admitted her temporarily below the defense of U.N. officials, who granted her refugee standing Wednesday.
Surachate stated her father — whose title has not been introduced — denied physically abusing Alqunun or trying to drive her into an organized marriage, which were among the good reasons she gave for her flight. He claimed Alqunun’s father needed his daughter back again but respected her conclusion.
“He has ten young children. He claimed the daughter could feel neglected at times,” Surachate said.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Legal rights Watch, cited Alqunun’s “courage and perseverance.”
“This is so significantly a victory for absolutely everyone who cares about respecting and selling women’s legal rights, valuing the independence of youth to forge their personal way, and demanding governments work in the gentle and not darkness,” he claimed in a statement.