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Saudi woman who fled family granted refugee status

IANS  |  Bangkok 

A Saudi woman who fled her family to avoid forced marriage and refused to leave a airport hotel room to avoid was granted status on Wednesday by the UN, her friends and supporters said, clearing the way for an asylum request.

The UN agency UNHCR referred her case to for her possible resettlement as a refugee, said in a statement to

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, had said she feared her relatives would kill her if she was forced to return to them as she had renounced Islam.

She escaped from them in on Saturday by boarding a flight to Bangkok, intending to fly from here to and apply for asylum.

However, the young woman said an employee of the Airways confiscated her passport and told her that at the request of the she would be forced to board a flight back to where her relatives were waiting for her.

When she refused and appealed to Thai officials, she was escorted to a transit hotel. She barricaded herself in the hotel room, until she was granted a temporary stay in under the protection of the UNHCR.

In a brief statement, the said it would "consider this referral in the usual way".

"The government will be making no further comment on this matter," the Department said. However, officials in hinted that her request will be accepted.

Al-Qunun's father and brother arrived in but she refused to see them.

"If she is found to be a refugee, then we will give very, very, very serious consideration to a humanitarian visa," Australian told the agency before the UN determination was made public.

Al-Qunun and her supporters drew the world's attention to her case through a global campaign launched mostly on

She documented her arrival and subsequent detention in on her smartphone, creating new and Periscope accounts where she received a deluge of supportive messages.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 09 2019. 14:20 IST