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

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By means of Related Press

TORONTO — Drained however smiling, an 18-year-old Saudi runaway who stated 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 fastened a social media marketing campaign.

“That is Rahaf Alqunun, an excessively courageous new Canadian,” International Minister Chrystia Freeland stated arm-in-arm with the Saudi girl 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 ahead of flying to Bangkok. From there, she barricaded herself in an airport resort to steer clear of deportation and tweeted about her scenario.

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

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

“It used to be a excitement for me this morning to welcome her to her new house,” Freeland stated. “She is clearly very drained after an extended adventure and she or he most well-liked to head and get settled. However it used to be Rahaf’s selection to return out and say hi to Canadians. She sought after Canadians to peer that she’s right here, that she’s smartly and that she’s more than happy to be in her new house.”

Freeland stated Alqunun commented concerning the chilly climate and she or he replied that it will get hotter in Canada.

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

Canada’s choice 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 give a boost to for ladies’s proper activists who were arrested. The Saudis additionally offered Canadian investments and ordered their voters finding out in Canada to depart.

No nation, together with the U.S., spoke out publicly in give a boost to 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 sector. We imagine very strongly that girl’s rights are human rights,” Freeland stated.

There used to be no speedy Saudi executive response, nor any point out of her arrival in state media.

Freeland stated the U.N. refugee company discovered she used to be in unhealthy scenario in Thailand and that Canada is happy they had been ready to behave temporarily to provide her safe haven.

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

The place of job of the U.N. Prime Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada’s choice.

“The fast movements during the last week of the federal government of Thailand in offering transient safe haven and facilitating refugee standing resolution by means of UNHCR, and of the federal government of Canada in providing emergency resettlement to Ms. Alqunun and arranging her trip had been key to the a success answer of this situation,” the company stated in a remark.

A number of different nations, together with Australia, were in talks with the U.N.’s refugee company to simply accept Alqunun, Surachate stated.

“She selected Canada. It is her private choice,” he stated.

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

“When referring instances with explicit vulnerabilities who want speedy resettlement, we connect nice significance to the rate 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 since the individual wasn’t approved to speak about the case publicly.

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

Alqunun used to be 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 resort room the place her social media marketing campaign were given sufficient public and diplomatic give a boost to that Thai officers admitted her quickly beneath the safety of U.N. officers, who granted her refugee standing Wednesday.

Surachate stated her father — whose identify has now not been launched — denied bodily abusing Alqunun or looking to drive her into an organized marriage, that have been a few of the causes she gave for her flight. He stated Alqunun’s father sought after his daughter again however revered her choice.

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

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 stripling to forge their very own manner, and critical governments perform within the gentle and now not darkness,” he stated in a remark.

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