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'Brave new Canadian:' Runaway Saudi woman reaches new home

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Via Related Press

TORONTO — Drained however smiling, an 18-year-old Saudi runaway who mentioned she feared demise if deported again house arrived Saturday in Canada, which had presented her asylum in a case that attracted international consideration after she fixed a social media marketing campaign.

“That is Rahaf Alqunun, an excessively courageous new Canadian,” International Minister Chrystia Freeland mentioned arm-in-arm with the Saudi lady in Toronto’s airport.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun smiled extensively as she exited an airport arrival door wearing a Canada zipper hoodie and a U.N. Prime Commissioner for Refugees hat, capping a dramatic week that noticed her flee her circle of relatives whilst visiting Kuwait and sooner than flying to Bangkok. From there, she barricaded herself in an airport lodge to steer clear of deportation and tweeted about her state of affairs.

On Friday, Top Minister Justin Trudeau introduced that Canada would settle for Alqunun as a refugee. Her state of affairs has highlighted the reason for ladies’s rights in Saudi Arabia, the place a number of ladies fleeing abuse by means of their households had been stuck seeking to search asylum out of the country in recent times and returned house.

Freeland mentioned Alqunun most well-liked to not take questions Saturday.

“It was once a excitement for me this morning to welcome her to her new house,” Freeland mentioned. “She is clearly very drained after a protracted adventure and she or he most well-liked to head and get settled. However it was once Rahaf’s selection to come back out and say hi to Canadians. She sought after Canadians to look that she’s right here, that she’s smartly and that she’s more than pleased to be in her new house.”

Freeland mentioned Alqunun commented concerning the chilly climate and she or he spoke back that it will get hotter in Canada.

Alqunun flew to Toronto by way of Seoul, South Korea, consistent with Thai immigration Police Leader Surachate Hakparn. Alqunun tweeted two photos from her aircraft seat — one with what seems to be a pitcher of wine and her passport and any other preserving her passport whilst at the aircraft with the hashtag “I did it” and the emojis appearing aircraft, hearts and wine glass.

Canada’s resolution to grant her asylum may just additional disenchanted the rustic’s members of the family with Saudi Arabia.

In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the dominion and withdrew its personal ambassador after Canada’s International Ministry tweeted beef up for girls’s proper activists who have been arrested. The Saudis additionally offered Canadian investments and ordered their voters finding out in Canada to go away.

No nation, together with the U.S., spoke out publicly in beef up of Canada in that spat with the Saudis. Freeland did not cope with what Alqunun’s case would imply to Saudi members of the family.

“Canada believes very strongly in status up for human rights all the way through the arena. We consider very strongly that lady’s rights are human rights,” Freeland mentioned.

There was once no rapid Saudi executive response, nor any point out of her arrival in state media.

Freeland mentioned the U.N. refugee company discovered she was once in bad state of affairs in Thailand and that Canada is happy they had been ready to behave briefly to provide her safe haven.

Alqunun’s father arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, however his daughter refused to fulfill with him.

The workplace of the U.N. Prime Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada’s resolution.

“The short movements during the last week of the federal government of Thailand in offering brief safe haven and facilitating refugee standing decision by means of UNHCR, and of the federal government of Canada in providing emergency resettlement to Ms. Alqunun and arranging her go back and forth had been key to the a hit solution of this situation,” the company mentioned in a observation.

A number of different nations, together with Australia, have been in talks with the U.N.’s refugee company to just accept Alqunun, Surachate mentioned.

“She selected Canada. It is her non-public resolution,” he mentioned.

Australian media reported that UNHCR had withdrawn its referral for Alqunon to be resettled in Australia as a result of Canberra was once taking too lengthy to come to a decision on her asylum.

“When referring instances with particular vulnerabilities who want rapid resettlement, we connect nice significance to the velocity at which nations believe and procedure instances,” a UNHCR spokesperson in Bangkok informed The Related Press in an e mail answer on situation of anonymity for the reason that individual wasn’t licensed to talk about the case publicly.

Canada’s ambassador had noticed her off on the airport, the place Alqunun thanked everybody for serving to her. She plans to start out finding out extra English, although she already speaks it greater than passably.

Alqunun was once stopped Jan. five at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport by means of immigration police who denied her access and seized her passport.

She barricaded herself in an airport lodge room the place her social media marketing campaign were given sufficient public and diplomatic beef up that Thai officers admitted her quickly underneath the security of U.N. officers, who granted her refugee standing Wednesday.

Surachate mentioned her father — whose title has no longer been launched — denied bodily abusing Alqunun or seeking to pressure her into an organized marriage, that have been some of the causes she gave for her flight. He mentioned Alqunun’s father sought after his daughter again however revered her resolution.

“He has 10 youngsters. He mentioned the daughter may really feel omitted once in a while,” Surachate mentioned.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, cited Alqunun’s “braveness and perseverance.”

“That is such a lot a victory for everybody who cares about respecting and selling ladies’s rights, valuing the independence of teen to forge their very own method, and critical governments function within the gentle and no longer darkness,” he mentioned in a observation.

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