Fleeing Saudi woman arrives in Canada

Ottawa: The young Saudi woman who has been granted asylum after fleeing from her reported abusive family arrived in Canada’s Toronto on Saturday morning, media reported.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18-year-old, was welcomed by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, CTV said.

Qunun arrived in Toronto from Seoul, South Korea, a day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would accept her as a refugee.

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Qunun reportedly fled her family while visiting Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, where she was stopped at a Bangkok airport on last Saturday by Thai immigration police, who denied her entry and seized her passport, reports Xinhua news agency.

She then barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign through her Twitter account that drew global attention to her case. She said her father physically abused her and tried to force her into an arranged marriage. Her father has denied both allegations.

On Wednesday, Canada signaled that it would be open to accepting Qunun, who had asked Canada for help via Twitter. Previously, several countries including Canada and Australia were in talks with the UN refugee agency in Bangkok on accepting Qunun.

The UN high commissioner for refugees in a statement welcomed the Canadian government’s “quick” decision to grant asylum to Qunun and provide a “long-term solution” for her in Canada as a resettled refugee on Friday.

The Canada-Saudi Arabia relations have soured after a diplomatic row which was sparked by the Canadian government’s call for the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and his sister Samar via Twitter on August 5, 2018.

In response, Saudi Arabia accused Canada of interfering in its internal affairs and expelled the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia and recalled its own ambassador from Ottawa.


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