UNHCR probing case of Saudi woman detained in Bangkok

UNHCR probing case of Saudi woman detained in Bangkok

UNHCR probing case of Saudi woman detained in Bangkok

SOPHIE MCNEILL: It became very clear at about nine o'clock in the morning Bangkok time that they would do everything they could to get her on that 11:15am flight on Kuwait Airways, because that was where she had travelled from, and the threat was she would go back to Saudi Arabia from there because she does have family in Kuwait and has spent time there too.

"She will be deported back to the State of Kuwait where her family live".

The Australian government on Tuesday said it was pleased the United Nations was assessing Alqunun's claim.

For more than 24 hours she fed global media, rights campaigners and a concerned public a stream of dramatic videos and descriptions of her ordeal.

The incident comes as Saudi Arabia faces intense scrutiny over the shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year, which has renewed criticism of the kingdom's rights record.

Mr Surachate earlier said she was denied entry because she did not have a paid return ticket or hotel reservation.

Human Rights Watch has called on Australia's government to clarify the status of the visa of the Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun amid concerns that it had been cancelled. A Saudi diplomat had reportedly seized it when she flew into Thailand from Kuwait on Saturday.

In 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom triggered a firestorm online when she was stopped en route to Australia, where she planned to seek asylum.

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun drew attention to her plight through social media posts over the weekend. She told the BBC that she had renounced Islam and was fearful of her father's retaliation. Her relatives have not commented on her accusations of abuse and Reuters was not able to reach them.

Late on Sunday, Ms Alqunun had warned: "My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait. They threaten to kill me and prevent me from continuing my education".

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Her father is the governor of al-Sulaimi, a town in the northern Saudi province of Hail.

"Any application by Ms al-Qunun for a humanitarian visa will be carefully considered once the UNHCR process has concluded".

A Saudi Arabian teen defector used cries for help on social media to avoid being deported back to her family after being held up in Thailand on her way to Australia. To date, I have no idea where she is, what happened to her and whether she is safe or not. "UNHCR consistently advocates that refugees and asylum seekers - having been confirmed or claimed to be in need of worldwide protection - can not be returned to their countries of origin".

The UN agency said its staff was interviewing Qunun on Tuesday, but it "could take several days to process the case and determine next steps".

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Thailand has denied that its government is seeking her extradition, Reuters news agency reports. I had told her not to tell me her real name in case her phone was being tapped, and now I had no way of checking where she was or what had happened to her.

Thai immigration police chief Major General Surachate Hakparn confirmed Alqunun's case could take up to a week to assess: "We will not send anyone to die".

"We have no idea what he is going to do ... whether he will try to find out where she is and go harass her". This "worried and scared me a lot", she said.

Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn says that after the father of Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun arrives, officials will see what happens and whether or not she will want to go back with him.

Thailand is not a signatory to a United Nations convention on refugees.

Earlier on Monday, a Thai court rejected an attempt to block Qunun's deportation saying there was not enough evidence and it was not clear who she is.

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