#SaveRahaf: Saudi teen who ran away from abusive family placed under care of United Nations refugee agency

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First Published 8, Jan 2019, 11:49 AM IST
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#SaveRahaf: Saudi teen who ran away from abusive family placed under care of United Nations refugee agency
Highlights

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun said that she fled from her family during a holiday in Kuwait and boarded a flight to Thailand. However, when she reached Bangkok, her passport was confiscated by Saudi officials and she is now being held in the Miracle Transit Hotel at the airport.

Bangkok: The Saudi teen, who ran away to Thailand from her alleged abusive family, has been placed under the care of the United Nations refugee agency after she repeatedly pleaded for asylum.

Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said that they will not force Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun to leave and she is currently placed “under the care” of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR .

"She is under the care of the UNHCR now but we also sent Thai security to help take care (of her)," added Surachate.

Also read — #SaveRahaf: All you need to know about the Saudi teen detained in Bangkok

The chief also told the UNHCR that Qunun said she wanted to stay in Thailand for a while before seeking asylum in a third country. Earlier, she expressed her willingness to go to Australia.

Surachate said that the agency will take around five days to consider Qunun’s status, following which he would meet the Saudi diplomats to explain Thailand's decision. 

Qunun also tweeted that she now feels safe under the protection of UNHCR and her passport has also been returned to her.

On Sunday, the 18-year-old girl stirred up a storm on Twitter after she took to the social media platform to seek help from her abusive family.

She said that she fled from her family during a holiday in Kuwait and boarded a flight to Thailand. However, when she reached Bangkok, her passport was confiscated by Saudi officials and she is now being held in the Miracle Transit Hotel at the airport.

Qunun stressed repeatedly that if her family gets to her, they will kill her. “They will kill me because I fled and because I announced my atheism…They wanted me to pray and to wear a veil, and I didn’t want to,” she said.

The human rights advocates also came out in support of her and urged the Thai government to help Qunun.

“Saudi women fleeing their families can face severe violence from relatives, deprivation of liberty, and other serious harm if returned against their will…Thai authorities should immediately halt any deportation,” said Michael Page, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, according to The New York Times.

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